Sorry. Not a story for bed time.
Have been in the bad place for a few days now with depression. There’s the cue for you to abort this reading, if you like……the picture is not of me, but of my phantom friend.
If you’re a kindred spirit, you might identify with some of these:
Sleep (fitfully) for ten or eleven hours
Waken for a bit, realize you need one more, then drift back.
Shuffle to kitchen for coffee, which clears the fog somewhat.
Eat some little thing (for “energy”, not appetite)
It does not work as promised.
Back into bed, this time with the door open. Two cats join you.
You think “Shit, I can’t do this”, and force yourself into the bathroom for a shower.
Brush your teeth, a must. You never skip this. Not yet.
God damn, I really need to shave. I look like shit. But not today. Tomorrow, I’ll do it.
I think of getting dressed, when the back story about shaving hits me.
The first person that I shaved, other than myself, was my father. In his 70th year, he was dying of pancreatic cancer. Before I go further, I will say that all of the caregivers I have met are worthy of high praise. Nurses especially, for what they do, their long hours, and their continual need for more help.
Dad was always a stickler for his appearance, but once he started to decline, of course he could not take care of himself. I asked a nurse one day if I could give him a shave. She was apologetic that they hadn’t done it in a few days, and was appreciative of the help. Looking at his jaundiced eyes without crying was difficult. That was the last shave he ever got.
My younger brother, about whom I have already written, died in his home, where we had set up a hospital bed at his request. I had stayed there for several nights, when his partner asked me if I could give him a shave. The same eyes studied me with regret and tears. I wonder if he knew who I was.
At last, my old father-in-law. He lived far away, and we used to visit once every month or two. He always made sure that he was presentable when he knew we were coming, and that included a shave. There eventually came a time when he had lost the will and the strength to do it, and I once more got out the hot cloths and warmed up the shaving cream. This third set of hopeless eyes was almost too much.
Now, I have given myself a figurative slap, and said “God dammit, you’re not there yet. Do the fucking shave!”
Nobody’s going to catch me looking like hell, and staring out of those 8-ball eyes.
Selfish, maybe. Running scared, maybe….but I would not want to inflict those moments on anyone who still loves me.
Lee Dunn has been writing since the age of 18, but found that work got in the way for the ensuing 48 years. In his home town of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, he reveled in his independence at an early age, and spent as much time as he could exploring the city’s Arts scene. He was introduced to poetry and prose by the works of two literary giants, namely J.R.R. Tolkien and J.W. Lennon and thence fell in love with the written word. His work includes poetry, short fiction, and personal essays, and ranges in theme from the surreal to the horrific, nostalgic, and themes on the human condition. He has been published on Spillwords.com, The Dark Poets Club, Journal of Undiscovered Poets, Crepe & Penn Literary magazine, and the Shelburne Free Press.