Another ghost knocking at my brain....
Ray was only 38 when I met him. He'd been living with an illness for 6 years when it finally robbed him of the ability to move any part of his body but his head and he'd been admitted to our nursing home.
I'd been warned before I'd met him that he was a little demanding and his speech was very difficult to understand. I thought I'd be pretty demanding too if I were in his situation, and I'd always had a knack for thick accents and speech impediments so I wasn't scared.
I had no need to worry. Ray and I hit it off right away. I had no trouble understanding him and did my best to organize my day in such a way that I left myself enough time to meet his needs.
In addition to his medication schedule, his toileting schedule, his resting in bed schedule, Ray had a strict smoking schedule. At the appointed times, someone would have to take him outside and feed him a cigarette.
As a former smoker, I enjoyed being able to light his smoke for him, sneaking in a little puff for myself. I'd hold the butt in a clothespin, or pen cap, or whatever invention he came up with to make the process easier, and bring it to his mouth as he pulled. We'd chat between drags and he'd let me know when he was ready for more. He'd usually smoke two or three each session. It was a good 20 minute affair. Lots of time to talk.
We'd talk a lot about Death. He never expressed fear, just curiosity. He'd been ready for it since he was first diagnosed and told it would be game over in around 6 years.
It had been 6 years when I met him. He was getting impatient. He'd asked his doctor why he was still around. He was told that he was in such great physical shape before he got sick, that his heart and lungs were still strong and weren't ready to give in yet.
He asked me to kill him.
"Come on. Just put the pillow over my face. Nobody will know. I won't tell, promise."
He'd smirk his cute little smirk.
In all our long talks, we'd realized that we had the same depraved sense of humor. We spent a lot of time laughing. Sometimes he'd get to laughing so hard that he'd start coughing uncontrollably and it would take him some time to recover.
I made him a deal. I would try to kill him. I would try to make him die laughing.
I would tell him wildly inappropriate and unprofessional things about his fellow nursing home residents. I would swear profusely. I would tell him filthy jokes and send him funny emails.
When I had time, I'd feed him lunch. He hated the pureed food.
"What are we having today?" He'd ask.
"Green shit, white shit, and brown shit. Which do you want first?"
We'd usually watch a movie during lunch. A comedy of course. He'd laugh and spray me with what ever shit was in his mouth. Then laugh even more as I cursed him out for sliming me with his nasty spit.
On his 40th birthday I may or may not have showed up at the nursing home very late at night and popped a porno into his VCR. He may or may not have laughed so hard that he'd admitted he thought he was checking out right then and there.
I did my best, but didn't kill him.
After two years, I ended up taking a job across the building and would no longer be his nurse. I visited a few times a week and took him out for a smoke as often as I could.
In the winter of '03 I was 8 months pregnant with Owen, and it was finally time to say goodbye to Ray.
His roommate was moved to another room so Ray's family could stay with him in his final weeks. Ray lay in bed as a steady stream of family and friends came in to say goodbye.
I know Ray was hating it. The sad faces, the heartfelt, tear filled farewells.
I wanted to say goodbye, but not like that.
Luckily for me, Liz was around. Liz was a nurse's aide and she was wonderfully crazy. She loved her job and loved her residents like they were family. She worked her ass off and seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
Our dining room looked out onto the porch where Ray would smoke his cigarettes. When he was out there, we'd open the window and whisper dirty things to him.
I may or may not have served as lookout while Liz dropped her pants and pressed her bare ass against the window in Ray's face.
So when Liz asked me if I wanted to come with her to say goodbye to Ray, because she had a "plan", I agreed without hesitation.
"Just follow my lead." My only instructions.
We knocked respectfully on his door, his family knew why we were there and left to give us privacy. We approached Ray's bed where he lay, eyes open, peaceful, maybe a little smile in them still.
Liz started in a very somber tone, fitting of the situation;
"Ray... Tulpen and I just wanted to come by and...."
I still had no idea...
"SHOW YOU OUR TITS!!!"
Screaming laughter ensued as our shirts flew up, stopping just under our bras.
Ray choked out whatever giggles he could muster as I walked up to him and pushed my enormous belly into his face.
He whispered, barely audible;
He was gone less than a week later.
Though he died peacefully, surrounded by his family, I still wish I had killed him.
I wish he'd died laughing.