Dark Roast and Disease

I got coffee with Mark this morning,
I can’t ever remember his last name.
He’s the one who asked his wife
to marry him after their first
date. Remember? Roxanne is her name.
 
This morning he told me she has symptoms
of early-onset dementia, and that she is fifty-eight;
they’ve been married thirty-seven years. He told me
that in five years she’ll need hospital care. He told me
she forgets expiration dates, birthdays, their
first date. He told me that their son, Taylor, won’t
let her babysit the grandkids anymore. Selfishly,
 
I thought of you. Last week: I drove home
from Grand Rapids, you were asleep,
reclined in the passenger seat, clothed
in a blue, thigh-high dress, unaware of your
not-crossed legs. Your delivery room posture
made me wonder what it might be like
 
to be beside you when you birthed life. A flimsy
hospital gown wet from your contractions, our
hands sweaty from your hormoning body. I wondered
how I would respond if refrigerator sticky notes,
marriage vows, photos from Hope, were your
reminders of thirty-seven years together.
 
Bent over the yellow star coffee mug, I looked
at Mark’s wrinkled cheeks and calloused hands
and asked, wondered, swallowed: Is it worth it?

Through the 3rd Eye was supported in its inception by the Grand Rapids Humanities Council and is currently made possible by continued volunteer effort and private support. Copyright 2013.