Thursday, March 12, 2015

A Fine Romance- Details on Dating a Hooker Part IV

            Not long later, I went over to Tabitha's room. I hadn’t heard from her in a few days, which was different. She called a lot. Usually to say nothing, just hello and good bye. I don’t why. She liked the sound of my voice. Maybe to remind herself that I was real, and not just part of a drug fueled psychotic break. Maybe she just mis-dialed a lot. She also hadn’t been answering her phone, another departure from the norm. I pounded on the door. No answer. I knew it was too early for her to be out working, so I used the key card that I had palmed before and let myself in.
            I saw her lying on top of the covers, face down, a pool of sticky saliva about her head. The pillows were scattered about the floor. A couple of empty pill bottles lying by her body. I’m sure everyone has already leapt to the correct conclusion here, but when you’re actually living it, you can easily miss the foreshadowing. I thought she was just asleep, no doubt aided by pills, or booze, or a combination of the two.
            “Hey. I’m here.” I said, “Wake up.”
             No reply.
            “Hey!” I shook her leg. 
            No reply. No movement. No stirring. No snoring either.
            I shook her roughly and sharply slapped her cheeks. She was warm and still breathing, but  wouldn’t wake up. I waited a few minutes and tried again. No results. I turned her over and peeled back her eye lid. The pupil was dilated. This meant something, I knew. Exactly what I didn’t.
            As I called 911, I prepared myself to answer a barrage of questions. It wasn’t until that moment that I realized how little I knew about her. Practically nothing, except for what I’d seen with my own eyes and a handful of hazy anecdotes. I had never met anyone else actually connected to her.
            Fifteen minutes later the EMT showed up and started working. Lots of questions were asked. What did she take? I don’t know. Medical history? I don’t know. Next of kin? I don’t know. My relationship to her? Besides something that’s obviously fucked up, I don’t know.
            They checked her out for couple of minutes, strapped her to a gurney, and hauled it into the back of the ambulance. I grabbed her big bag of crap and hitched a ride along. We rattled down the street, siren blazing away, I drifted off thinking: Had the situation been reversed, what did she know about me? I had never introduced her to anyone, or even really mentioned her to family or friends. I had never told her about my past, where I was from, or how old I was. It was like we existed for the other only in a bubble, cut off from the rest of our lives.
            At the hospital, they rushed her in and gave me a form (of course) to fill out. I wrote her name easily, but that was it. I rummaged through her fat sack and cribbed the rest from an expired driver’s license, a current Medicade card, and what I think was her Social Security Card (it was very water damaged).  I turned in the papers and hunkered down for an extended stay in the antiseptic, yet still foul, waiting room.
After an Ice Age, a lanky huge- bearded doctor finally came out. We went through the rigmarole of who I was and how I was connected to Tabitha. I cut him short.

“What’s her condition?”
He looked startled and blurted, “She’s in a coma, but there’s a series of treatments we can try and I’m optimistic that she’ll pull through.”

He wanted a bunch more useless information. I said that I needed to use the bathroom and would be right back and handed him her bag. I then left, catching a cab outside. There was nothing else I could do.
 The ride home was filled with silent contemplation. What the hell were the two of us about? I cared about her, but I had no illusions that our relationship was ever going to more than what it was. What did I honestly mean to her? I couldn’t tell. I think she wanted a real relationship with me, but what we had was the best she could manage.
I went back several days later and after some stumbling, found where they had stashed her. Some long term unit for the terminal and incurables. I knew then, though I didn’t admit to myself, that it was over for her. This was her final living/resting place.
Poor girl, poor girl. She never really had any sort of a chance. Someone, in my mind an indistinct monstrous personage, had taken and broken her at a young age. She had never recovered or been helped to recover, back when it might have worked. The details… well the details don’t matter, because here we are now! The damage goes on through her entire life. If this hadn’t been her end, then what? Dead from an overdose? Prison? Homeless and crazy on the streets?
I kept going back though, hoping the truth was a lie. Each time I asked if she were going to come out of it. I got, “There’s always a chance.” Which means, “No.” After two months I stopped going. What was the point? She didn’t know if I was there or not. All of that reading to a person in a coma stuff is just placebo bullshit for the grieving relatives, so they’ll feel like they’re doing something and leave the doctors alone.
The question is presented. Was this an accident or a suicide? I’d like to think it was a mistake. But perhaps she had a moment of clarity and saw where her life was going, or wasn’t going, and decided to end it. We all have moments of weakness where death is a glorious release. Perhaps she embraced it.
The last time I saw her. I just stood at the foot of her bed. She looked… I don’t know, peaceful lying there, eyes closed. Even with the tubes running this way and that out of her, there was a sanctity about her still form. I thought that this was the best she was ever going to get in life. Cared for with no worries, no responsibilities, and nothing to do but… exist.
At the end of this story people usually ask me, “Isn’t there something more that you could’ve done to help her?” What specifically I could’ve done is never mentioned. I usually answer, “No. She was too far gone by the time I met her.” I remember the old clich├ęd adage that you can’t get someone off of drugs if they don’t want to. And unless you’ve been through it with someone, it’s nearly impossible to realize just how true that saying is. The best you can do is slow them down.
In my head, I know that there was nothing to be done, but occasionally, while I sit at my Waffle House and sip a cup of coffee, I feel a pang in my heart and I wonder….