Phase Three: Vertical Love
Sebastien’s weight rapidly declined when his treatment started. Any food he consumed wouldn’t stay down then commenced the coughing which was soon followed by blood. Spittle formed at the corners of his mouth and body temperature always kept him cold. Karmen was sure the sheets and blanket weighed more than he did. His eyes haunted her, she could tell he was in an immense amount of pain. Dark circles shadowed under his lids and eyes were sunk into its sockets. A minor tremble of her lips twitched into something that could become major, but she swallowed and held down the growing lump that wanted to force its way back up her throat.
“This is what you wanted, don’t flake out on me now,” he croaked with a weak smile.
“I wanted you to want to get better.”
“Things don’t always go the way you want, do they?”
“You’re hanging in there. The doctor said you’re making progress.”
“Sure doesn’t feel like it.”
“This will be over before you know it.”
“Hmm,” he croaked, “ever the positive one.”
Month after month became more and more excruciating until the break they were looking for arrived. Cancer cells were finally being eradicated, his color went from grave gray to something more warmer. For the first time, real hope lit up his eyes. Karmen felt relieved but kept focused on the task at hand: building his immune system and body back up from scratch.
Recovery came day by day and soon Sebastien began consuming solid foods without vomiting the contents over the cold floor. Energy radiated from his being, but he was antsy to get out of bed on his two feet. He still couldn’t walk yet and his doctor recommended full rest.
But with every win, there was a setback waiting to rear its ugly head. Had Karmen known what was waiting for her, she may not have taken this self-imposed journey beside Sebastien.
Two months later…
Physical therapy was crushing to witness. The screams of agony, beaded sweat popped from every pore in his face and still he didn’t give in. He made it through each session stronger than before. Things couldn’t have been better or so at least that’s what I thought. Sebastien hadn’t been on his feet long before his long-lost ex showed up at the hospital demanding to be taken to his room. From the looks her, she was flawless, she looked like something out of a fairy tale. I shrank a little on the inside as I watched her briskly trot past me onto an opening elevator.
I know I should have stayed away, but I didn’t want Sebastien to be hurt anymore than he was. I took the next elevator up, found his room and let myself in. I captured the attention of them both. He looked more irritated by my presence than the woman who abandoned him.
“Is everything alright, Sebastien?”
“Who are you?” the woman challenged.
“I’m just a friend helping him get back on his feet. What brings you here?”
The woman scoffs, “It’s no business of yours. Please give Sebastien and I some privacy.”
“I’m taking care of him, so you should be the one who leaves.”
“Karmen, just go. I don’t need you here.” Sebastien ordered.
“But, she’s the one who abandoned you when you needed help.”
“I said leave. Now.” I was left feeling stunned and betrayed, but I left them in peace. I stayed next to the door and arguing ensued. The woman wanted to know who I was to him and the awful answer he gave was so clear and cold. I was no one. I don’t know what was said next because that was the last time in a long time that I ever showed my face to him again.