Monday, August 4, 2014

The Graceful Truth: Part V



One morning I was feeling horribly sick, the kind of sickness that stabs you in the abdomen and shakes around like a steady earthquake inside your pain receptors. I was staying over at his place like I would normally do, but this particular morning I was really regretting it. I couldn’t sleep, it was maybe four in the morning and I just kept rolling, twitching, and huffing.
Finally, sometime around 530 am I couldn’t stand it anymore. I stumbled my way to the bathroom, which wasn’t easy because the pain in my stomach had bloomed towards my sides and back. I could barely walk, but I made it to the bathroom thinking that if this was just a normal morning constitution I would never ever again eat carne asada fries from that dinky Mexican place down the street.
Twenty minutes later not only did nothing happen, but I was starting to feel worse. I just had no idea what was wrong with me. A soft knock sounded at the bathroom door before Kellan’s sleep rumpled face poked through the crack. “Babe, you ok?”
I looked up at him slightly embarrassed as I sat uselessly curled in a ball on top of the toilet in nothing but a t-shirt, and my blue and purple stripped boy shorts. I was in too much pain to do anything about my embarrassment so I just mumbled a half spoken no and stumbled off the toilet toward the floor wanting nothing but to curl up and die.
“Do you know what’s wrong?”
As soon as he asked the question it was like my brain flipped on finally screaming the answer at me. It had happened twice before, both times I had no idea what it was, but this time I just knew. The pain doubled up on the left side of my back shoving a hot poker of fresh agony between my ribs. I knew without a doubt that I once again had kidney stones.
Immediately I panicked because there was no way I could get to the hospital. I definitely couldn’t drive, Kellan didn’t have a license (long story there), and I didn’t have insurance to call an ambulance. I didn’t know what to do but the words spilled from my lips as he hauled me back to his room and carefully deposited me back on the bed. “I need to go to the hospital.”
The look on his face was serious and slightly gushing with immense worry. “The hospital? Is this that bad?”
“I have kidney stones again.”
“Oh shit.”
I nodded my head because all forms of communication were quickly shutting down. I don’t know when or how he made the decision, but within a few minutes I had a sweater over my head, shorts on, my sandals strapped to my feet, and I was stumbling alongside him toward my truck parked out front.
Though I’m pretty sure I mumbled something about him not having a license he slightly laughed and said, “I don’t care if I get a ticket, I am getting you to the hospital Gracie.”
There was no reason to argue, and for the most part I couldn’t have argued even if I tried. Though it felt like a million years, he got me to the emergency room in under 25 minutes. By the time I got inside and on a gurney bed I was a ragging wreck of tears, snot, and gurgling moans. Trust me when I say that kidney stones are one of the most painful experiences I have ever had to endure, and I have gone through a lot of painful things.
He stayed by me the whole time; through the tests and the long waiting, through talking to my doctor and the nurses. He even called my mother to make sure she knew what was going on. We drove to the drug store and picked up several different pill bottles, one of which made me horrible sick and I threw up what little I had in my stomach in the target parking lot.
“I am so sorry, I am such a wreck!” I mumbled in between sobs of numbed pain and nausea.
Kellan reached out with both hands and grabbed the sides of my face before I could pull away. My breath stank with pill infused puke, my hair was in a mass of knots and kinks from sleeping on it, and my eyes were so swollen from crying that they itched like there was sand plastered over them. “Stop it Gracie, I love you, and I want to make sure you are ok. I’ll get you home and tuck you into bed and when you feel better we can order pizza from that place you like.”
Looking out at Kellan as he took his place at the Bridal party table I saw nothing of that man that stood by me on that day so long ago. Everything about him had changed and I felt this vast stretch of nothingness blanketed between us that I would never be able to cross again. It wasn't really that he looked that much different, or that his personality struck a different tune, it was more that he had never seemed more unattainable. Before I had no qualms being close to him, seeking him out, talking to him out of the blue; but today it all felt different. He felt untouchable and I didn't have the strength to press through the invisible barrier.
I glanced down at my plate of picked over chicken and fried potatoes and grimaced at how little I managed to put away. It wasn’t like I had a choice, my stomach was tied in such a fierce knot that the only thing I could manage to get down was champagne, and I was fine with that. I was on glass three and going strong.
Music filled the wide tent space as glasses clinked watching the couple of the evening prance out to the dance floor. Looking at the beautiful bride I suddenly experienced a moment of clear understanding and comfort. She was truly beautiful, and extremely happy. The groom pulled her close to him and they danced through the entire song without taking their eyes off each other. It would normally be a gag inducing moment for me, but truly I couldn’t help but smile at her obvious joy. I knew what it felt like to be loved like that, to be cherished. I had to give it to the girl that she snagged a man that would treat her with the respect and love she deserved.  They spun and swayed along to the soft lilting music pulling my head more away from my negative thoughts and refocusing on the good.
“There’s that smile that I’ve been waiting to see,” a deep voice said from just over my shoulder before my stomach dropped out from beneath me hitting the floor with a loud splat.
I turned slowly, the smile now more manic in fear than split wide with joy, as I stared into the soft brown eyes I had been dreaming of since I walked away eight years ago. His smile was easy, the small kind of smirk lifting the corners of his eyes as the iris’ sparkled with excitement. It was a look I craved every day so many years ago, and now that I had it up close again I didn’t want it to ever go away again.
His eyes flitted from my face to the beautiful bride on the dance floor. “She looks happy doesn’t she?”
I nodded my response because I had yet to find my voice in his presence.
“I never thought I would see my sister get married, but seeing her this happy makes me think there is hope for us all.” His eyes did that twinkling thing they do when he is truly overwhelmed with the pureness of bliss before his gaze focused on my face. “I’m really happy you came, and I know Samantha is too. I wasn't sure you were going to make it.”
Crap. Did I not mention that Kellan is the Best Man? You probably thought he was the one getting married, which possibly would have made this day easier and whole lot more horrible.But he didn't get married today, and he never secretly got married from the looks of his left ring finger. But he has a woman in his life, though I had yet to see her shapely figure amongst the crowd.
As he smiled into my eyes for several long pauses I wanted to say something back, I wanted to unload every emotion running through my head and beg him for a second chance because I knew looking at him now that was the only thing I wanted. But I didn’t say anything, I didn’t say a single word and I notice the easy silence turning more and more uncomfortable as every second ticked by.
Kellan’s attention slipped as an elder gentleman tapped him on the shoulder asked about some wedding related issues. Before he turned to go and help the man with the problems that would most definitely ruin the entire evening by the look on the old mans wrinkly face, Kellan pulled his attention back in my direction pulling my hand up to lips before he cracked a wicked smile.
“Save a dance for me will you Gracie?”
His lips touched the sensitive flesh of my knuckles before he traced over the spot with the pad of his thumb. He was waiting for an answer. His face was less than six inches from mine, so much closer than it had been in over eight years. I wanted him closer, I wanted so much more of him closer until there was absolutely no space between us.
“Yes,” I responded finally through shaky lips. “I’d love a dance with you.”
His smile grew wider if that is even remotely possible, and then he turned toward the elder gentleman and disappeared into the crowd.
My glass of champagne was in my hand before I knew it downing glass number five in less than three seconds. Oh dear God he wanted to dance with me. More champagne might be a bad idea, but I filled up my delicate glass with more frothy bubbles telling myself that sipping it slow would make the jumpy buzz I already had stay at a constant pace.
Oh God, I hope I don’t throw up the contents of my dinner.