Dear San Diego,
If there's one thing about Parker's schizophrenia that I envy, it's the ability it gives her to fearlessly tell people exactly what she thinks.
If she knows you, she doesn't pull punches. If you're peddling shit she'll call you on it.
People don't like getting things straight. I'm used to it, I'm Parker's primary target. But most don't.
It started with her not eating about a month ago. She was already incredibly thin, so it was easy to see the decline.
On top of that she'd sometimes sleep for 15 hours a day, complaining about migraines, trouble breathing, pain in her stomach.
I'm not a doctor by any means, but I'm also not an idiot. Calling an ambulance wasn't an option, so I fed her double her usual dose of Zopiclone one night, borrowed Maggie's truck, and drove the hundred odd miles to the hospital.
When she awoke she was already on an IV, had had her blood work done, and found me sitting in a chair beside her bed.
"I know, you know."
I just looked at her, an uncontrollable panic on my face.
"I'm not going to get angry," she said, "but you shouldn't have done this."
Her schizophrenia was one thing. That I'd come to know intimately. But in that confused maze it's easy to forget that there's a person in there capable of making extremely lucid decisions. When you're not having plates or books thrown at you, you're trying to convince her to do something she doesn't want to do, like change a shirt she's been wearing for a week. But that doesn't alter the fact that, if she had wanted to, even in her state, she probably could have won the Fields Medal.
Given the limitations of the hospital, we waited five days. Five days of phoning Maggie and apologizing about her truck. Five days of not sleeping. Five nights pacing outside, smoking in a hot summer somber.
And so, on the sixth day, the girl that I'd met in Cambridge more than 25 years ago, was diagnosed with lymphoma.
She was 47 years old and hadn't smoked a day in her life.
There are people in this world that you love, or you think you love. Most of it, if we're honest with ourselves, is passive. The people that we truly love are the ones we cannot abandon in our hearts, no matter how far away, no matter how much time passes. They are in us completely, always perfect, the most infinitesimal details easily recalled.
They are why we are here.
I wasn't in the room when they told her. Not because I couldn't stand to be, but because I'd gone to get coffees.
When I got back she was sitting up in bed, the curtains dawn, sunlight flooding into the room. The look on her face was one I'd never seen before, one of a woman tortured her whole life finally at peace.
I stopped. She looked at me and smiled, and then stretched out one of her hands so that I might take it.
Putting the coffees down, I took it gently, sat down on the edge of the bed, and, for the first time, kissed her.