It felt like a short night in the ICU. The moment I was settled into bed, I began sawing some serious logs. The day’s events had wiped me out. It was a Sunday morning. Even the ICU is slow on a Sunday morning. I was now on medication to control leakage through the fissure while being pumped full of blood, fluids, and antibiotics. Denise came to visit in the early afternoon. She brought a duffel bag with two changes of clothes/ Out of the blue, she said that Kirsten had packed up and left last night. She told me with an unsettling matter of fact attitude.
I asked what had happened. Denise said Kirsten had a fight with her father and her sister. The fight with her father I knew about. It had happened a couple weeks prior. Kirsten nearly took the front door off the hinges when she came home from wherever she had been with him and bawled for a solid thirty minutes. I do not know what the argument was about, but I have heard her father scream brutal obscenities and threaten violence with her numerous times before when her bedroom was next to mine. I have been on the receiving end of his bellowing histrionics myself and I--thank God--am not even one of his kids. For the record, Kirsten makes three of his four children who now have nothing to do with him. Take that for what it’s worth in judging how justified Kirsten was in leaving... I have no desire to waste anymore time on my brother-in-law now that I no longer have to tolerate him. Leave him for Divine justice.
But the argument with her older sister, Erica, I do not know. Sometime while I was in the emergency room the previous day, Denise called Erica to come from Columbia to pick up Kirsten and her little brother and take them home. Erica must have spent the night, because she had to be babysitting her brother while Denise was visiting me. Their father, a state trooper, was in Myrtle Beach directing Memorial day weekend traffic. Did the fight occur last night? Was it the direct catalyst for Kirsten leaving? Did the fight occur sometime prior? If the latter, then perhaps Kirsten simply took advantage of the opportunity to leave while her parents were otherwise occupied. Whichever the case, I thought back to the conversation Denise and I had five months before on the ri8de home from HealthSouth. She had expressed concern then Kirsten’s father and sister would not be sympathetic to her fragile state. Indeed, they were not. Kirsten clearly regressed over those five months, buckling under the stress of living in that house I was stronger, but then I believed I was going to kick the bucket sooner rather than later. I guess we both held out for our own exits.
There is no point in pondering these questions. After dropping off some clothes and telling me about Kirsten’s departure, Denise left herself. I have not seen her since. I likely never will again. I know now via Kirsten, who returned home to retrieve the rest of her belongings the following July, Denise cleaned out both our rooms in between May 26th, the last day I saw her, and June 3rd, the day before her surgery. Kirsten’s room was given to her brother. Mine became storage space. I have never been able to retreive my personal belongings because they no longer exist.
But I was unaware of my abandonment period, much less all the trappings, when I was moved into a regular room on Monday. Things were peaceful until Tuesday when Denise’s old tactic of lying to someone in a position to force me to do something in order to not get her hands dirty. I cooperated reluctantly when she had done that with my occupational therapist months prior, but I balked when the social worker wanted me to go into a nursing home while she recuperated from surgery. I said that was completely unnecessary and declined to cooperate. To her credit, the social worker backed off and informed Denise of my refusal.
I paid dearly for that one. I called her later that afternoon to ask why she had exaggerated my abilities to live independently yet again. The last time, she let my objection slide. This time, she did not. Denise chewed me out over the burden I have been, how she had lied about my death wish, and the general irritation of dealing with my medical issues. Nowhere among the histrionics was an acknowledgement that I lived independently, which was the social worker’s express concern.
Guilt is a great weapon. You do not even have to wield it like a master swordsman for it to work, although Denise does. I had no desire to live in a nursing home, even for five or six weeks, but I had no choice. I assumed Denise was under the stress of her impending surgery exacerbated by Kirsten leaving. She was asking me a huge favor, but I agreed to do it. I had no idea Denise was actually upset because she had already thrown all my belongings out/planned to do so and I was gumming up the works I was naïve enough at the time to still trust Denise. Not that I had any choice.