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July 2018, vol 14 no 2

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Glenn G. Coats

Come to the Light

The hospital opens at five a.m. and we are early. I turn the car off and wait with my wife. She notices clumps of pansies that blur red and white; two tall cedars mark an entrance to a walkway. There are no vehicles coming or going in the parking lot. My wife asks me to hold her glasses. “I won’t be needing them,” she says as lights click on in the lobby.

early procedure
the ping of prayers
on a cell phone

I lay her raincoat on top of mine, tuck my wife’s identification cards into my shirt pocket. There is a picture on a waiting room wall, three large circles side by side, smaller circles float inside like bubbles. Some are clear, others distorted so they may not be circles at all. I look harder and sense three soccer balls, each in a different stage of coming apart at the seams.

a power beyond

My wife is in a yellow gown with a pattern of blue symbols. We both remember a two-piece bathing suit that was much the same color, a small sailboat gliding across a reservoir. She lifts her head to see the tubes in her arms. Doctors and nurses keep asking about her birthday as I kiss my wife good luck.

when all the dreams
are put on hold
spinal anesthesia

My knuckles are swollen and I cannot twist my wedding ring back on. There is a permanent dent where it used to be. My wife can’t go on with the pain in every step. The perimeter of the house is too great a distance for her to travel, a strip of sand too great a barrier to cross in order to reach the sea. Something has to change.

between stars –
the point where talking

There are no guarantees or false promises. There may be minimal improvement in mobility but the pain will be diminished. In the weeks to come after the surgeries, pain will lift like a mist and vanish. The surgeon says my wife will feel as though she has wings and we will wait quietly by a window for her time to fly.

life of a mayfly
the breath it takes
to say I love you