Write On Me

Tigoni

St. Andrew’s Road

November 16, 2017

11:34 p.m.

September fifteenth, two months ago, I vowed before God and man that I would love her with all I was and everything I had. Cherish and protect her, as well. I meant every single word. And she was emotional, my girl. Her eyes were brimmed with tears, a beautiful mess. On that cold, Friday afternoon, she became mine. And Lord knows I was proud to be hers.

At two in the morning, the day after, I held her in my arms, my hands on her waist. OK, below but not way below. But inside inside I wanted to grope her. And with every word from Brian Nhira, she sashayed while I kept on stepping on her feet, to, would you still love me?

What if I couldn’t speak

What if I couldn’t eat

What if I couldn’t move

Would you still love me?

What if my body ached

And I always made you late

What if I couldn’t wait

Would you still love me?

Would you love me when it’s hard

And our life’s fallen apart

If the things that we once knew are long gone

If our blue skies turn to grey

And my memory fades away

Would you still love me?

Would you still love me?

What if I’m complicated

Always leaving you frustrated

Nothing ever went quite right

Would you still love me?

Wish I could let you know what the future holds

But that’s a promise I can’t make

Through the good and bad, happy and sad

Love is a risk that we must take

I wanted to whisk her away. Stop time and get lost in her. My gun is not loaded with rubbers, you know. My impatient soldiers were quite thirsty to fire, believe me. Bullet after bullet. Shot after shot.

At three, an hour later, I was driving us, headed to a cabin—a gift from a dear friend—faster than usual.

“Hey, we have the whole night. Slow down.” she said.

“Babe, it’s three in the morning. Not the whole night.”

“That has nothing on you.” She teased.

“And I love how you highly think of me.” My possessive hand gripped her thigh.

“Don’t flatter yourself, young man.”

“Ouch.”

I slowed down anyway. But that did not stop the devil, minutes after, from causing a trailer to ram into our car. The right side, her side.

And after three days, I woke up from a comma.

Shortly after, I’m told my wife is paralysed. Waist down.

I felt like my heart had been taken out from my chest, stabbed repeatedly and returned back.

After three days, I was broken.

After three days, I was scared.

After three days, I was empty.

Numb, I did not know what to do. I feared for her. My broken left knee was a non-issue.

You do not realise the weight of the vow, for better or for worse, till it slaps you right across your face.

Our first test of marriage was here already. After three days. And it did not even care to knock, at least.

And now, right now, her lean back faces away from my hairy chest. So close that maybe liquid cannot seep between us.

Beneath the sheets, is her naked skin. I wrote her poems on her skin with my lips.

Four hours ago…

After a hard day’s work, packaging and delievering paintings, I need a quick nap. Lying in bed, my eyes are closed and I can feel my body giving away. These kind of naps are short and sweet, something forbidden. But I do not get to taste the fruit because I hear something crush. A sharp wince follows and I’m up. I quickly rush to the kitchen, most likely it is where the wince came from, and I find Yvonne – my wife, on the floor.

“What happened?” I move across the kitchen island, “what is wrong?”

“Nothing,” she drops the pieces of glass from her palms, “just a broken glass and a woman on the floor.”

I help her sit on the wheelchair, “but you could have called me. I asked you to.”

“I did not want to bother you. But again I was doing fine until the glass slipped.”

“What if you got cut, your legs perhaps?”

“I’m lucky that I cannot feel it, right?”

“That was not funny. Come, let’s get you out of here.”

‘No, I’m OK.” She waves her hands, “I can feel this, means I can wheel myself out.”

I watch her wheel away. And sigh.

See, Yvonne suffers from paraplegia paralysis. This means she is paralysed below the waist, affecting both the hips and legs. However, it’s not permanent. It’s a substantial impairment in functioning and movement. And therapy—psycho, exercise, physical—is the saving grace here.

Having to watch her go from a person that was once optimistic, embraced life with grace to a person that is the opposite of that, is painful. Just clean and raw pain. Because a lot has changed, really, her difficulty with her bladder and bowel function, even her sexual drive, change in mood and physical function.

And I’m here, her man, trying all I can to pull her out of that lonely abyss. Because loosing herself will be like loosing myself as well.

After clearing the broken pieces of glass, I find her in the living room. I’m thinking, do I stay with her or should I give her space, weighing the dire consequences especially of the first, I choose the latter. I place a glass of water, at the table beside her, and walk past her. But she stops me by holding my arm.

Her: (whispering) Are you tired?

Me: Yes, babe. I need a power nap before I prepare us dinner. (emphasis) Today was a crazy day.

Her: (I make to walk away) No. I mean like, are you tired of me?

Me: Tired of you? Is that what you are thinking now?

Her: (sighing) Just answer me.

Me: Do you really think I’d be tired of you? Huh, Yvonne? (she looks away) No, no, keep your eyes on me, don’t look away. Do you think I’m tired of you?

Her: I feel like you are pulling away from me.

Me: OK. Go on, talk to me.

Her: (hesitates)

Me: Fuck the power nap. (I turn her to face me as I sit on the couch) What are you thinking right now? Tell me.

Her: I don’t like who I am right now. I am so close to hating myself, and I’m trying so hard not to get there. Every day, especially when my moods kick in, a piece of me dies. Really. I was a fitness instructor, you know how much I (emphasis) loved my job, it was undeniable. I helped people regain their confidence again, to love and appreciate who they were, but now tables have turned. I’m not that fit, toned and sexy woman you once adored. Look at me, (gesturing) my stomach, my cheeks, all these is fat. Even my arms are flabby now. I’m not her anymore.

Me: No, no-

Her: I’m not done! You asked for this, please let me finish. (I nod) You know people have this perception that a woman should be beautiful, graceful, sexy and full of poise. I’m not that. I lost my poise; I don’t feel sexy anymore and trust me, I don’t think I’m beautiful. I did not ask for this. Neither did you. But why? Why is it so hard for me to accept this? I know I’ve not been a wife to you. I’ve never served you tea; not even ironed your shirts; or helped you find your socks. And yes I know that is not what defines a wife but I just feel helpless. And…and…and, I’m afraid. (breaks down in tears)

Me: (rubbing her arms) It’s OK. Shhh, it’s OK.

Her: (mid crying) No, it’s not OK. It stopped being okay, when that goddamn truck hit me! And it stopped being okay, when I could not feel my legs! It’s not OK, so don’t say it is! (sniffs) So where was I?

Me: (grinning, handing her my handkerchief) You are afraid?

Her: I am afraid that you will leave me. That one day you will wake up, go to work and not come back. That you will go out there find another woman and make her yours. That-that she’ll not just be any other woman but a wife. What I’m I even saying? Babe, it’s so hard for me. Do you understand me?

Me: Yes. Yes, I do. It’s okay to have such kind of thoughts but it’s not okay to believe in them. I will not allow you to. Now, listen to me.

Me: If I had a choice, I would leave you. I would have dumped you in that hospital even. But I do not have a choice. When it comes to you, there’s no choosing. I vowed to be by your side no matter what. Despite everything, right? Well, I did not think our worse would come this early, but hey, that doesn’t change how I feel about you. That should not even be a question.

Me: You know what pains me? Is that I’ve allowed you to have such thoughts about yourself. That you would even think that I’m pulling away. I’m sorry. I’m really sorry. I don’t want you to hate yourself. It would kill me if you sank to depression under my watch. Babe, I will not lie to you. It is not easy for me either. And at times it becomes overwhelming. So we need to pull this through, we need to come out of this together.

Me: And you’re beautiful. I’m not telling you this to make you feel better because that’s what you are. And if that is what I’ll spend my life making you believe, I will. Who said you can’t walk again? You will, believe me. Not now but one day. But will we sit and wallow? Complain and blame? No, we will find a way, find us again. I miss us, you have no idea.

Her: I do too. I really do. I miss everything and I want it back. (emphasis) All of it.

Me: As for me, I’ll say one of the things I miss. Do you want to hear it?

Her: (she excitedly nods)

Me: OK. I miss us making love. Oh God, you have no idea- (she laughs) Why are you even laughing? (chuckling) Can’t a starved man express himself?

Her: You know it’s not going to be the same anymore.

Me: (holding her palms) Who said so?

Her: How do we even start? I cannot move anything from the waist down.

Me: You can’t, but I can move you! I will make sure you move, trust me. (she chuckles) I got you! Listen, here’s the thing, there’s this vagus nerve that is responsible for the pleasure signal from sex. And it does not interfere with the spinal cord cause it goes straight to the brain. Then, there, endorphins! BAM!

Her: Where did you even get that from?!

Me: I googled. (Her: No, you did not.) Yes, I did! Man was curious.

Her: I can’t believe that minutes ago I was feeling terrible and now I’m not. It even scares me. It’s been a while since I chuckled even laughed, this long.

Me: Because that is us. It is who we are. Well, who we were before but we are slowly finding our way there again, right? (she nods) Tell me what you want? Anything.

Her: I want you to take me away. Somewhere far, away from here. Somewhere I can heal, we can heal. Find us again. I want to accept this, find my way around it. Embrace it even. I want my old self back.

Me: I will take you away, I promise. But not tonight. Tonight…( I lift her up from her chair)

Her: (placing her on the couch) What are you doing?

Me: (sitting on her chair) Right now I want to dance with my wife.

Her: Now? Like right now? But I can’t stand.

Me: (scrolling through my playlist on my phone) Who said you can only dance while standing? Come.

I lift her again, with not so much difficulty, and have her sit across on my thighs, her arms around my neck.

Her: OK. What are we dancing to? The sound of the crickets outside?

Me: (the phone, connected to the speakers, I press play) This.

What if I couldn’t speak

What if I couldn’t eat

We danced to that on our wedding day, she whispers.

What if I couldn’t move

Would you still love me?

What if my body ached

And I always made you late

What if I couldn’t wait

Would you still love me?

Would you love me when it’s hard

I can’t hold back my tears. We both can’t.

And our life’s fallen apart

If the things that we once knew are long gone

If our blue skies turn to grey

And my memory fades away

Would you still love me?

Would you still love me?

What if I’m complicated

Always leaving you frustrated

Nothing ever went quite right

Would you still love me?

She brushes her nose against mine.

Wish I could let you know what the future holds

Shaking with emotion.

But that’s a promise I can’t make

Hungry with desire.

Through the good and bad, happy and sad

She kisses me. And yes, I kiss her back.

Love is a risk that we must take

Featured image: Pinterest

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