Stella’s picture has fallen face down from its clip onto the black protective cover of the digital keyboard. I don’t know it’s Stella’s picture yet because there are 15 unframed snapshots hanging above the keyboard.
I turn it over and my heart sinks.
The above event occurred Tuesday, Jan. 26. Stella was admitted to the hospital Jan. 24 with severe ulcerative colitis and ulcerative proctitis. The house is empty. I spot the fallen picture. I turn it over. For an instant I am lightheaded.
Stella was readmitted to the hospital on Feb. 9, after seven days at home in what was to be a long recuperation. At her bedside she whispers, “I’m trying to hold on.” I ask her what she means. “To life,” she says.
She is 51. Two sons and a daughter. A mother. “To life.”
I place Stella’s picture next to a photo of me. I won’t let you fall.
No one but I (and now you, the reader) knows of this incident with Stella’s picture. I hadn’t even planned on writing this out for you. I hinted at it in a poem published Feb. 3.
This morning I couldn’t keep it in any longer. Catharsis maybe. Ego, maybe. I don’t know anymore.
Last night I sat down with a tall glass of Jim Beam bourbon and watched The Martian. “Fuck you, Mars,” says stranded astronaut Mark Watney. I scream back, “And fuck you, fate!”
And for the rest of the movie, I angrily joyfully cheer Watney’s victories, for in my mind’s eye these are Stella’s victories.
This space is magic. You’re reading this now. Will you help me make magic? Will you help me bring Stella home?
You know what to do.