ON GRATITUDE – Who Am I Kidding?



I’m back.  Cooper’s still not home from work, something went down, the server I guess, and they’ve been working since Saturday to get it up and running again to no avail as of yet.  Kind of a bummer since I usually go to bed at 8:30pm, but I’ll be up later tonight because I slept in a little this morning.  I dislike not getting to hang out with him in the evenings though.  I love living with him, he’s the best roommate I’ve ever had.  He’s just the best.

To have a person who always comes back is the most amazing thing.  No matter if I push him away, he always comes back.  And it’s likewise wonderful to always have a person to return to.  No matter whether he pushes me away, I always return to him because I love him and I won’t let him be alone when he is hurting.

I think often lately of the moments just before they took Cooper into surgery for the lung transplant.  It makes me cry every time.  I just wish my parents would have been there, or Christopher and Aaliyah, or Caleb or Stella and Gabrielle.  It was wonderful to have Cooper’s cousin there, I am forever grateful that she and her husband were there for me and I was not completely alone, but I felt almost completely alone because I hardly knew them, and even when Cooper’s parents got there, I still hardly knew them.  It was the most horrible thing I’ve ever had to go through, and I essentially had to go through it by myself.  It seems, though, that sometimes the most horrible things you have to go through in life, you must go through alone.  Maybe not in spirit, but mentally, you have to go through them alone.

I don’t even know how to put it into words.  I had finally found someone who loved me more than life itself.  Despite my mental illness and despite my $150,000 in school loans, I found someone who not only accepted me, but who wanted to be with me and love me for the rest of his life and beyond.  And I was watching him die.  Not so much at the beginning of our relationship.  But after he got back from Europe, from that awful England, he was never the same.  I think he dropped from 32% lung function to 19% in a matter of months and the winter was horrible.  Walking from the car to the grocery store or a restaurant or friend’s house and back in the frigid cold would just take his breath away.  He would cough violently and I would sit and watch him, massage his neck and say it was going to be okay, but there was nothing I could do.  I could be there, but he had to go through it, he had to struggle to breathe on his own.  Sometimes we have our troops around us, but we must stand on our own two feet by our own volition.

And it just got worse from there.  At the end, before the surgery, he was having even more violent coughing attacks with the addition of panic attacks, which would leave him breathless and cause him to lose consciousness.  And I sat by and held him and watched as my love struggle to breathe.  He struggled to live and I just sat and watched.  I couldn’t breathe for him; I could only sit there with him and watch as my lover was dying.

It was hours.  We were at the hospital for hours and hours before he was taken back to surgery.  It was agonizing and unreal.  We sat in the intake room while they took 22 vials of Cooper’s blood, a 20-minute process for the idiot nurse who hadn’t a clue.   And then we went to the pre-op room and they began to prep Cooper for surgery.  They tested him and inserted an IV a quarter inch in diameter, they kept saying, everything will be fine.  And then they left us.

I watched as Cooper called his brother, his parents, said ‘I love you’ for the first time in his life to them.  They weren’t even there.  His brother never even came.  Cooper could have died in this surgery and his brother never even came up from school.  His parents knew he was listed on the transplant list and they went to Illinois to visit family regardless, had to drive for 12 hours straight to get the hospital, hours after Cooper was taken into surgery.  We were alone.  It was fitting.

I always wanted a man to come and save me.  I wanted my white knight in shining armor.  He came, but never in the way that I suspected.  Cooper saved my life.  For so many days I wished myself dead.  I struggled with the meaning of life, I needed something outside of myself, something stronger than the mental illness I dealt with, to come into my life and save me.  Cooper came.  Not in the form of money was I saved, not in the form of tangible objects.  I was saved by love.  There is nothing more powerful.  I don’t believe that anything less powerful could have saved me from myself.  And Cooper came.

I told Cooper this once, and he cried and said that I’d saved him to.  For years before we became one, he lived his life without regard to the future because he never felt he would have one.  He had wonderful family and good friends, he had money and nice things, but it could not save him.  He needed something stronger than his illness, something stronger than the force that was slowly killing him, to bring him back to life.  And I came.  And I loved him, and I loved him fiercely and without regard to his illness.  He loved me fiercely without regard to my illness.  We both understood, knew what it was like to live a life limited.  We understood what it was to struggle.  We did not understand the grave inner workings of each other’s illnesses at first, but we felt each other’s understanding nonetheless.  And we could therefore love not despite, but because of what these illnesses had shaped us to become.

I never believed in a million years there would be a person on earth who would accept me with my illness and my debt, and then Cooper came.  He came to my rescue, breathed life into me and gave me hope and desire to live into the future.  And never did he think he would find someone who would love him as he was dying.  That would love him in such circumstances.  And yet I did, and breathed life into his heart and gave him reason to fight, reason to live.  We were so unique in circumstance from our peers, but we were not alone.  Fate, destiny, chance, whatever have you, brought us together.  Love saved us both.  Our love for each other saved us both.

It’s times like these when I wish, in some respects, that I was not on medication for my illness.  To write like I used to, with such beauty and grace, to portray in words the beauty of my life, I miss.  But none of this would be possible, Cooper and I wouldn’t be possible, without my medication, without my stability, without my sanity.  I think I was still borderline when Cooper and I first started dating.  Still messing around with medications, still with shitty doctors, still smoking weed.  But his love gave me the strength to rise above what was holding me down for so long.  Gave me reason and strength to move forward, gave me reason to break the chains, beautiful at times as they may have been, to live a life actually worth living.

I don’t think of these things often.  When I sit down to write, I think of things more clearly, or I write until I do in any case.  I write and I think, and I write more and think more, it’s a process, just as life.  It would do me well to think of these things.  What a special journey I’ve been on.  What a story to tell.  Does the inability to express with perfection how I feel, make the expression not worth conveying at all?  I don’t know.  I lean either way, depending.

I am very white and black, all or nothing.  If I cannot be perfect, it is difficult for me to be.  If I cannot be perfect, I often don’t want to even try.  But what is perfection– the attainment of that which is sought or the journey of seeking?  I do not know, but I know what I suspect.  I forget though, where beauty actually lies.  I forget that perfection lies in the struggle of the human spirit to achieve what is merely believed in our minds to be perfection.  The struggle is what is perfect, what is beautiful.  Not the end.  It’s the journey.  It’s the choices.  It’s what defines us.  It’s the pursuit of character that makes us beautiful beings.  We are not all beautiful.  We are not all equal.  We all have the choice to be beautiful though.  And equality is irrelevant in beauty, as a fundamental quality.  Beauty stands on it’s own.  We all can be beautiful, but we must choose it, and work for it.  Beauty is not easy.  It takes patience, it takes determination, it takes persistence.  Beauty requires hope against all odds, it requires belief in the impossible.  But beauty can make the impossible, possible.

It’s just another form of love, really.  Beauty is love, and in love we find hope, we find strength, we find resilience.  What is beautiful is love.  What is love is beautiful.  It’s all there really is, and all that’s really worth hoping for, what’s worth pursuing.

It would do me well to remember this.  I must keep writing, I must keep remembering, what it is I am here for.  I am here to love and be loved.  Nothing more and nothing less.  It is so easy to lose my way.  I know why I am here.  How many people can say that?  With certainty!  I know.  And yet that is not enough.  I must act on it, I must believe in it, I must remember it, every day.  Every day I must do this, accomplish this, find this.  Every day I must search for my beauty, for my love.  I have been blessed, but that is not enough.  I must work to appreciate and respect my blessings.  All of this, I must remember.


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