My husband lifts his shirt and asks me if I’d scratch his back. Each knob of vertebrae, every part of his shoulder blade, from the broad, flat plane to corocoid process to acromium, where it joins the collarbone, IS nothing but bone. There’s no muscle, no padding, just hard bumps, plates, and points.
Below that blade, his ribs stand out like a Halloween skeleton’s, obvious, a cruel reminder with everything else of the internal struggle. His back is difficult to scratch because my fingertips bang against those points and knobs, and bump along those ribs, falling into the depressions between them. Each vertebrae is its own war trench, alive with hooks and teeth that grab my fingers. It is both pitiable and repulsive. I close my eyes.
I want my life back. What I mean is I want all of this behind me. I want the quiet of mind that allows me to drift into imagination instead of the vigilance required as I oversee the distribution of his medications, the arguing over foods and drinks he wants and shouldn’t have. I want my mind busy with observation and research and writing instead of filled with the constant revolving list of medications and their schedules, and appointment dates and times, of careful diets, all blinking on and off inside my head.
But most of all, I want my husband back. I want the quiet, active man, the man who sees everything as glass half empty while going about his chores, his work, his life. I want the healthy man who took his cholesterol medication every day and went shooting every Sunday.
I hate this cancer.