To Be Free

Joni Bour 


Copyright 2017 by Joni Bour    


Photo of an old man in a hospital bed.

I sit writing notes, and handing off prescriptions for the Doctor to review and sign. We are waiting to move on to the next case, and I am thinking about you. I hate you, I long to be free of you, and I hate myself for thinking that. I want to love you, and I wanted you to love me. I needed you to love me.

Finished with paperwork, I sit one leg across the other, lost in my head and my childhood memories of you, when my boss nudges me. I lose my balance on the chair, and my clog falls with a clunk to the floor.” Jones, go see your Pops for a little while. I can handle the next case.”

In the few seconds before I stand to go, I think of 27 reasons why I can’t go, but all of them sound petty, and some will reveal how evil you had once been. So, like most people who have lived through the hurt, and confusion, and shame of abuse, I shield your past, hide my truth, and I smile at my boss instead of speaking out.” Thanks Doctor V.” He smiles back, he would move mountains to see his father in a time like this, wouldn’t I? You see, he has been loved intensely. In fact, he has photos in his office of graduations, and picnics, fishing trips, and kayak adventures to prove it. I was not loved by you. I have no photos, no memories like that. But I do have a scar on head, a few on my legs, and an irrational fear of closets. Those aren’t things I care to reveal about you, or share about me.

I walk through the double doors from the short-stay area, and the closer I get to your room, the more I want to shake myself, the way you so often shook me in my childhood, but this time it is cast you out of me, to exorcise the demon of you. Instead, I straighten my scrub shirt, and smile at the nurse as she walks from your room. I stand just outside your door and think about my brothers, the ones who are free of you, they are miles and time zones away. I called them, they know, and they are not coming. I can’t really blame them, in some ways, part of me left a long time ago too. But the part of me that is still here, the part that stands next to this bed? The part of me that knows what is expected, the part that struggles with loving you and hating you? That part of me is still here, I can’t seem to get away. So, I stand here, in a room filled with tubes, and canisters, and machines, and you, and all my memories of you. How is it possible for me to feel so alone? Even as you are dying, I am alone.

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