Lemon drops

I’ve spent days not getting my port flushed and once the flush rushes through my veins my nurse offers me fluids. Apparently my vitals are not optimal. Hooked up to the pump, I feel… Trapped. I need to get out of here. I’m done with scans and blood and cancer. But I’m trapped by the line connected to my chest. The chill settles over my body but I refuse the last blanket. We have a packed house. 
There is a man next to me wearing a mask. His eyes are dull. I see the woman in the chair watching him sleep. My nurse asks me what I used for my chemo rash and I don’t have the heart to tell this woman that I didn’t use anything. I just itched all the time. I suggest oatmeal instead. She’s tired. Weary. She says “we’ve tried everything”. 
I know she’s tried everything. I see the desperation on her face. I’m not allowed to ask what kind of cancer he has, I don’t ask his name. I don’t want to know his name. But she’s heavy. So I ask her how she is. 
He’s been in treatment for over two years and she steals kisses from his lips while he’s sleeping. His body is covered in chemo rash and he reaches out in his sleep for her. He has constant loose bowels and he loves lemon drops. He’s asleep more than he’s awake. She cries like a soft waterfall, her tears running unchecked down her gaunt face. She doesn’t know how much longer he can hold on and she’s been at her breaking point for a long time now. I want to help her. I want to comfort her. I ask quietly if she has any support. She tells me all of her family have moved on and all of her friends are tired of her tears. 
I send her to a few websites and give her a caregiver’s support group phone number I keep in my phone. She won’t call, though. She’s used to shouldering the weight of him. 
I glance over at him. He’s fragile. He glances at me from sleepy eyes. “Girls have cooties. Maybe she gave you a rash, ” I say. He chuckles at me and says in a dry raspy voice “She’s my angel.” He offers me a lemon drop and looks down at the line in my chest. “You’ll get cold.” I’m already freezing and I just want to leave this place. Instead I accept his offer and chat about lemon drops versus cinnamon drops. 
His machine beeps and I see the desperation cross his eyes. Oh I know that look. He’s afraid his legs won’t work. His wife helps him stand and he leans heavily on her. They walk slowly away and I look at the line connected to my chest. 
I want to ask about Mary. I don’t dare. 
I hate this room. I’m grateful for it as well. I don’t ever want to come back. 
I’ll be back in this room that smells like death and lemon drops next week. I hope Mary is well. 


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