Monday, April 15, 2019
What It Was - Chapter 16
With everything that had happened and what I had dealt with over the past couple of days, my body had finally shut down. I had felt slightly off for days already and having found Jordan out on the streets that night and everything that had followed had put me in a permanent state of stress. I had tried my best to not break under the weight but at everything I had been feeling with Jordan and how things had developed, my body had put a stop to itself.
I had passed out on the armchair in my living room with Amber checking my pulse and Chad about to call 911. Amber had made sure my legs were elevated, had fanned me with a magazine, had given me water, and Chad being the strong older brother had eventually carried me into my bedroom and had gently let me down on my bed. Amber fully present in her nursing capabilities, had stuffed pillows under my legs, elevated my head, and I slowly came to. Chad ended up not calling 911 after all.
When I came to, the first person I saw was surprisingly Jordan. I blinked at him and quickly realized I was in my bed and Jordan was sitting in his wheelchair next to my bed, holding my hand.
Amber was on the other side of the bed, looking at me still holding my wrist in her hand, with two fingers on my pulse, and Chad standing behind her.
Right away tears started running out again. Jordan didn’t say anything but just looked at me with a weary expression. His calloused hands were wrapped completely around mine and I locked eyes with him.
Amber asked softly, “Shay, how are you feeling?”
I turned my head toward her and my brother, answering, “I’m okay I guess.”
I didn’t remember anything and I looked back at Jordan, “What happened?”
Jordan lowered his eyes and then looked back at me, replying, “You wanted me to leave.”
I was surprised at this statement, “Wanted you to leave?”
Jordan nodded and explained, “Then you passed out but your brother stopped me from leaving.”
I was confused, “Passed out?”
Amber now spoke calmly, “Yeah, you passed out Shay. I believe it was a type of anxiety attack, maybe too much stress bringing it on. Chad was about to call 911 but then you came to. You’re feeling okay right now?”
I nodded and looked from Amber and Chad back over to Jordan, “I don’t want you to leave.”
I looked back at my brother and Amber, “And I guess I’m okay at the moment. Thanks guys.”
Chad stated, “You’ve been through quite an ordeal the last few days and your head injury is kind of a big deal. We think it’s just been a bit much. They probably should have kept you at the hospital longer. You need to rest and take it easy, little sister.”
I really couldn’t disagree with this. I knew it had been a lot, my emotions had been running wild at being with Jordan and my physical abilities had definitely been limited, but I had wanted to be strong. Now my body had given me the stop sign and there I lay.
Looking at Amber and Chad I mumbled, “You guys should go to the party.”
Chad laughed somewhat sarcastically, “Yeah, not happening right now, sis.”
I asked nervously, “Did you tell mom and dad?”
Chad shook his head, “No.”
I was relieved, “Thanks Chad.”
My brother nodded understanding, “No problem. I know when not to involve mom and dad; right now is definitely one of those times.”
“What about the party?”
Chad answered, “Don’t worry about that right now. We can get there later. I already texted Terry that Amber had a costume malfunction and we’ll be late.”
Amber’s costume fit perfectly fine, she was dressed in a witch costume, her hair crazy around her head and she had only taken her witches hat off that she had worn earlier. My brother next to her was dressed in a knight outfit, looking very dapper actually.
I looked over at Jordan. He sat quietly in his wheelchair next to the bed and was still holding my hand.
I asked him softly, “Are you all right?”
Jordan nodded with his dark eyes on me, “Just worried about you.”
“I’m okay again.”
He then added, “I’m sorry about everything, Shay.”
“It’s not your fault.”
Jordan nodded, “It is completely my fault, no denying it.”
I couldn’t really disagree but we were in this together and just as Jordan had all the issues he dealt with, I had also been the one determined to get to him, to find him, to be with him, even though I knew exactly that this was all but normal and was going to be all but easy. The factual voice in my head was telling me that all of this was a very bad idea but a factual voice had no power in the face of emotions and feelings and those had overcome me with full force. We were in too deep already than to turn back. The question was now how Jordan and I were going to deal with the challenges our relationship would bring with it.
I didn’t want him gone from my life, I hoped he didn’t want me gone from his life, but I also knew that being with Jordan would be the hardest thing I had ever dealt with and it would take strength and determination. The end goal would be that Jordan would hopefully eventually try to get away from the drugs but I couldn’t expect it at this very moment. It would be on his terms and the time line was on him. Questionable was the length of time when he would reach that point and how much my devotion to him would impact the urgency or delay of his attempt to overcome the addiction.
My new normal would be a boyfriend who was an addict and life would continue on his terms, on his addiction, on his time lines, on his issues, and on his health. Everything would rally around Jordan’s life choices and I would have to be the calm in his storm and the exorcist of his demons.
But I would also be the woman who adored his body in exactly the way it was, broken and shattered, tortured and haunted, and I would show him that despite all of it, he would still be everything I wanted and longed for. How long I could endure it, I didn’t know, but I didn’t want to think about it. How the world around me would react, I also didn’t know, but I didn’t want to think about that either. I would learn to deal with how Jordan was and I would hope that at least in return he could love me back to his best abilities. I would lower my expectations and I would enjoy the good moments with him and I would indulge in those moments when they happened to make up for the times when Jordan would be too far from me, mentally or physically. And I would wait patiently when he returned to me in his mind and body.
I lay there and looked at Jordan and replied weakly, “It doesn’t matter Jordan. We can’t keep doing this blame thing. We’re in this together and right now I know I want to stay in this together with you. I don’t want to look too far ahead; tomorrow is the furthest really. We know the facts and it’s on us how we’re going to deal with them. I’ll do my part and you’ll have to do your part and hopefully we can figure it all out. I know that I love you and that’s all I can do. I don’t want you to leave unless you have to for obvious reasons. I will then deal with it and try to do my best. If you ever get to the point and want to change things, I’ll help you and I’m sure my brother and Amber are on my side.”
I looked over at them and both nodded in agreement.
I then met Jordan’s dark eyes on me again and I finished, “Meanwhile I’ll keep on living my life, you’ll keep on living yours and when we’re able, we’ll be living our life together.”
Jordan was biting his lip and now opened his mouth to speak but didn’t.
Instead he inhaled and exhaled and he nodded nervously before he finally replied, “I love you Shay and everything you said…yes, I feel the same way. I can’t really grasp what is happening but I will always love you, no matter the situation I’m in and even in my darkest times, I’ll still love you and I want you to always remember that. You may not see it and you may not even feel it, but my love for you will always be there, maybe not obvious all the time but it’ll never go away. And…and no matter what will happen between us, my love for you is always going to be in my heart. You’re the only person that has given me this opportunity and this attention and I’m aware this is a once in a lifetime situation. I know this is my last chance.”
My eyes were on Jordan and I nodded, “So we will make it count?”
Jordan nodded and Chad remarked, “And Amber and I can help if you need us. There is help out there. I’m a High School counselor and Amber is a nurse. We have access to a lot of resources. Whenever you’re ready Jordan!”
I smiled at Jordan and I ran my hand over his arm.
Jordan nodded looking at us, “Thank you.”
I didn’t know if or when Jordan would be ready to get professional help but I didn’t feel alone anymore. I had my brother and Amber on my side and also on Jordan’s side. I felt a burden come off my shoulders and I felt that with their support, Jordan and I could make it somehow.
Amber now said, “I’m glad you feel better now Shay. I really want you to rest and take it easy. You’ve been through a lot.”
Chad nodded in agreement and added, “Yeah, you listen to her, Shay.”
He then smiled and sat on the bed next to Amber.
I turned to Jordan again, “Are you doing okay?”
He nodded and replied softly, “I am right now.”
I looked at Chad and Amber again, “Then you guys should probably still go to the Halloween party.”
Amber looked at Chad questioning and Chad took a deep breath, “I don’t know.”
I nodded, “You should go. I feel okay again and Jordan is doing okay right now. I think we’re fine.”
I looked over at Jordan and Chad smiled, “Says the girl with a head injury and foot injury lying in bed after she passed out from an anxiety attack.”
I had to laugh softly, “I have you on speed dial if I need you.”
Chad smiled at me and I repeated, “I’m okay and I want you guys to go to the party. It’s one thing that I can’t go and I’m sure Terry will get suspicious and be disappointed if you guys don’t show up either. And you know it’ll make its way to mom and dad. Mom thinks I have a cold and I want to keep it at that for right now.”
Chad nodded, “Yeah, you got a point there, ‘lil sis.”
Chad put his arm around Amber, “What do you think nurse Amber?”
Amber smiled and nodded, “Well, I guess it’s okay if we still go but Shay, I really want you to just rest. And we’ll check in with you throughout the evening.”
I asked with a weak smile, “Are you okay if I rest on the couch in the living room? I feel like I’m sick lying in my bed.”
Amber still smiled, “Yes, but we’ll make sure you’re getting there okay.”
It was about fifteen minutes later that I let myself down on the couch in the living room and as Amber made sure I had water on the table next to me, Chad ordered Pizza for Jordan and me. Initially I had planned to cook something but after everything that had gone down, I knew I wasn’t able to cook anything or stand in the kitchen. I had very much realized the pain I was actually still feeling in my ankle and even a headache had been lingering with a dull pain pounding on top of my head. I had been trying to ignore that I was not really doing great, but I had only wanted to be with Jordan and had tried my best to be good but I knew I was far from it.
Eventually I had convinced Chad and Amber that I was fine and they should go and have fun and represent our family at the party. Both were hugging me as I lay there on the couch and Jordan wheeled out into the foyer with them.
I couldn’t see them all the way but I heard them exchange a few heartfelt and meaningful words of a developing friendship. Jordan apologized again and he promised to take care of me and also that he would make sure I would keep Amber and Chad in the loop.
Jordan locked the door behind them and he then came wheeling into the living room and looking at him once again the way he was at the moment, my emotions triggered my heart beat to speed up and my hands to tremble. He looked good and momentarily he seemed fine and like he had it together.
He rolled up to the couch, asking shyly, “Are you all right?”
His eyes were dark and had a sadness to them still but he managed a weak smile.
I nodded and he added, “This was rough…”
I agreed, “It was. Maybe I shouldn’t have called my brother.”
“I understand why you did it. Your brother is a good guy. His girlfriend is very nice. Any other brother would have probably kicked me out and I would have actually understood.”
“They are on our side Jordan.”
Jordan nodded, biting his lips, “They care a lot about you.”
“Yes, we are close.”
We were quiet again and Jordan lowered his eyes, then from under his bangs he glanced back up, saying with a trembling voice, “I’m very sorry that I scared you, Shay.”
I nodded and took a deep breath, “I was just so scared you may have overdosed or something.”
Jordan now nodded and then explained, “I don’t know why that hit messed me up like it did. Just so you know, I’ve never overdosed. I don’t plan on changing that but I understand that you were scared. Again, I’m very sorry.”
“It’s okay, I guess I’ll have to get some Narcan. I read about it.”
Jordan now nodded, “I actually have some in my back pack.”
I was surprised and asked, “You do?”
“Yeah, I’ve gotten it before when I was at the hospital just in case. I’ve got two doses. I’ll give you one.”
I nodded again, “Jordan?”
“How are you right now?”
He smiled weakly, “I’m good. I’m not hurting right now and my legs are actually still at the moment.”
“I’m glad you’re feeling okay right now.”
Jordan looked at me and I reached my hand over to him, “Come closer so I can touch you.”
He put his hands to his rims and slowly rolled all the way next to me, then took my hand.
We looked at each other and I said, “I love you Jordan.”
He looked at me for a moment, his lips pressed together and nodding before he replied, “I love you and you’ll be my reason to never have to use the Narcan.”
I smiled and we held hands and just looked at each other.
Jordan had turned my world upside down in a very short period of time and nothing would be the same as before anymore. I still didn’t fully know how everything was going to be and as much as I wanted to be with him, deep inside I was scared at what was coming and if I could handle it. I knew I could count on my brother for full support in this and this gave me a slight peace of mind that I would be able to tackle whatever was coming my way with Jordan in my life.
Looking at Jordan right there in his wheelchair though made my heart beat quickly and brought into my memory again how I felt about him like this. He was really like a picture from my fantasies. Fantasies that I had indulged in all throughout my life, the boy in the wheelchair, the young man in the wheelchair, the boyfriend in the wheelchair, and even the husband. Fantasies where I would have this paraplegic man in my life and how we would be together and how I would be so happy and so proud that he would be mine.
And there had also been the dark fantasies when I had actually pictured my able-bodied boyfriends ending up in wheelchairs, maybe because that imaginary accident that happened and left them paralyzed, but how I would stick by them through it all. I used to hate myself for fantasizing about those things. No one ever had known about this; it had been my dirty and dark secret all my life. I couldn’t live like that anymore. With Jordan in my life the fantasies had become reality. It wasn’t only the paraplegia but it was a lot more that came with Jordan though. The phrase “be careful what you wish for” rang in my head and there I lay on the couch looking at my drug addicted, homeless, paraplegic boyfriend.
My brother had ordered Pizza for us before they had left. It was almost eight o’clock now. Initially I had planned to cook something and have this romantic dinner with Jordan but all that had not happened because everything had turned out different.
I didn’t care anymore; I could feel how my body needed rest and at the moment I was just glad that Jordan was there with me.
Jordan said, “I’m just going to get a beer from the fridge. Do you need some more water or anything?”
I shook my head and let his hand slide from mine. My eyes followed as he pushed his rims and swiftly rolled into the kitchen. Just as he was popping the lid on the bottle, my door bell buzzed.
I was startled momentarily at the unexpected noise and Jordan quickly pushed his wheelchair from the kitchen, “I’ll get it.”
I looked over to him, “Okay, the button on the left of the door opens the door downstairs. You have to tell them I’m on the fourth floor. You can see them on the camera too.”
As Jordan rolled toward my apartment door he said, “Okay.”
Jordan found the door opener and he also called over to me, “It is the Pizza guy.”
I then heard him press the door opener and he said into the speaker that we were on the fourth floor. He then waited by the open apartment door.
A few minutes later I heard a greeting apparently from the Pizza delivery guy. Jordan greeted him as well and for a few moments I heard some conversation, and Jordan came rolling in with a Pizza box on his lap and a receipt on top of the box, “I guess you have to sign the receipt.”
I took the receipt from Jordan and signed my name and added the tip. Jordan took the receipt back to the Pizza guy waiting in the hallway, thanked him, and then closed the door.
Jordan stopped in the kitchen to grab his beer and I asked him, “Can you bring some paper towels?”
Jordan came back balancing the roll of paper towels on his lap and beer bottle between his legs.
I sat up and carefully let my injured foot down on the floor. Jordan opened the Pizza box but waited for me to grab the first slice of Pizza, then he took his.
Our eyes met momentarily and we started eating. I realized how hungry I had actually been as I bit into the fresh Pizza.
After a few bites I asked, “So when you’re out there, where do you eat?”
Jordan finished his bite and shrugged his shoulders, “Whatever I can get. It depends on where I’m at and how much money I have. Sometimes I eat at the soup kitchen if I’m in the area. Sometimes I grab a burger or something. I don’t eat a whole lot.”
I said softly, “I can see that.”
Jordan lowered his eyes seemingly embarrassed.
“I guess I’m not exactly the healthiest guy.”
I glanced at him and he smiled, “Comes with the territory I guess.”
Even though it was the harsh truth, seeing Jordan smile about it made me smile at him, at the same time I was amazed at his sense of humor.
He finished a bite, “This is good Pizza.”
I asked hesitantly, “Have you ever gone through trash cans for food?”
He lowered his eyes and nodded, then looking back up at me, “I have. It’s my last resort though, I try to avoid that. I may have done it when I was high.”
I now looked at him, “I don’t ever want you to go through anyone’s trash. I want you to come to me and you’ll get food here anytime if you need it. Or you will let me know and I will bring you food wherever you are.”
Jordan took a deep breath and lowered his eyes again, nodding, “Okay.”
I sensed that he was embarrassed about this. I very much hoped that Jordan would be eating at my place a lot more in the future.
We ate mostly in silence then. Just from watching Jordan it looked like he very much enjoyed the Pizza and he finished two more slices after the first one and also his beer. It made me happy to see him eat.
Even though Jordan seemed hungry and ate, I sensed a humbleness about him, like he didn’t want to seem too eager or too comfortable eating at my place the food I had bought.
The things he had said earlier when Chad and Amber were here were still occupying my mind. Jordan had mentioned his parents and sisters and what he had told us about himself when he was a young and what he had done was still difficult for me to comprehend. I had so many questions still but now that everything seemed calm, I didn’t want to stir up things anymore. I wanted to just be in the moment with Jordan and enjoy each other while we could. I was well aware that our good times would be limited and I had decided for myself that I would enjoy those times to their fullest as long as we could.
My head still hurt with any sudden movements and my ankle was not doing great either. I thought about work and really didn’t know when I would go back. I was hoping Jordan would stay with me through Sunday but I really had no idea how everything was going to be. At the moment I wasn’t sure about anything really. Mentally I prepared myself that it would be like this from now on, never able to plan too far ahead and having to go moment by moment, day by day. Jordan didn’t live off a structured schedule, the only thing that was sure in his life was that he would do another hit eventually.
We finished eating and Jordan didn’t hesitate to actually take the Pizza box to the kitchen and while he was there, he washed his hands and grabbed another beer from the fridge.
He called over to me, “Do you need anything?”
I would have loved to open the bottle of wine Jordan had brought for me or anything alcoholic really but I couldn’t drink anything with the pain medication I was on.
I was okay at the moment and told Jordan. He came back to the living room and set the beer bottle on the table, then looked at me, “I’m going to have to use your bathroom again. Is that okay?”
I was alerted momentarily and he must have seen my expression, “Just to actually pee.”
I nodded, “Of course.”
Jordan disappeared in the hallway toward my bedroom.
I knew enough about paraplegia and Spinal Cord injuries with loss of sensation that I knew about bathroom routines. I would have loved to actually see how Jordan used the bathroom but I wasn’t going to ask him about that just yet. I assumed he used a catheter to drain his bladder since he didn’t have a leg bag when I saw him undressed earlier. Just the thought about it intrigued me very much and I hoped that maybe I would get to see it sometime.
I grabbed my cell phone from the table and scrolled through my social media. I saw what all my friends were up to. Matt also had pictures of a Halloween event and he was laughing and looking happily in the camera. There was no woman by his side though. I still felt bad for having turned Matt down but there was nothing I could have done. I saw Chad and Amber had posted pictures of their Halloween dress- up stating that they were on their way to the Halloween event of the year with clapping hands and pumpkin emojis.
The world outside kept turning and life continued like normal. I felt left out somewhat. My life would have been exactly that over the weekend. I would have had fun at Halloween events, I would have not been injured or had a mental break down. I would have partied, maybe even hooked up with someone and I would have then gone back to work on Monday like most days of the year. Within days everything had changed for me.
Just as I was looking through all the fun pictures of my brother and Amber, Matt, coworkers, friends and family, Jordan came wheeling back into the living room. When I looked up and saw him there in my living room, I knew it was the right thing.
He looked happy with a smile on his face and his dark eyes had a glow to them. He pushed his rims and came wheeling around to the couch. Seeing him there in front of me I was once again mesmerized by him and inside I longed so much that he would always have that smile on his face.
He pushed his wheelchair closer and without saying anything he angled his chair next to the couch. He looked at me and I could see his questioning look and I just nodded and moved out of the way for him.
I watched as he set his break and pushed his butt forward on the seat. He grabbed his legs and pulled his feet off the foot rest, then with his one hand on the couch and the other on the wheelchair he propelled his body out of his wheelchair and fell onto the couch. He tumbled over and he actually laughed and this was the first time I heard him laugh and it was a beautiful laugh, lined with the embarrassment of his clumsy transfer and landing sideways but also a laugh that sounded carefree and happy. I laughed with him and he scrambled up and got into a more upright position.
We laughed still and he looked at me shyly, “Not a very hot transfer, was it?”
I smiled, “Any transfer is hot to me.”
He nodded with his eyes down, smiling, “All right then, I don’t have to try so hard. I just need more practice to get on your couch.”
He pushed himself closer to me and without any words he then pulled me to him and actually we both fell over again and lay on the couch. Jordan’s legs were still off the couch.
He was over me and with a serious expression he looked at me, stroking the hair out of my face, “I love you Shay.”
I smiled at him, “I love you too.”
So much I wanted him to kiss me but he didn’t and I didn’t attempt it either. I scanned his face. From the corner of my eyes I saw the scars on his arms, the small wounds that were not scars yet and the bruises around some of the punctures. I ran my fingers through his dark hair.
I asked him softly, “Did everything work in the bathroom?”
I debated if I should ask him more because I was curious.
Softly I started, “Do you use…use a catheter?”
I wish he would have told me more but he didn’t, so I asked him, “What do you do out there on the streets?”
He lowered his eyes and explained softly, “I just do it where ever. Sometimes it’s better out in nature because public restrooms are not always very clean. I have to try to keep things clean.”
“Do you get sick with UTI’s?”
“Yeah, I’ve had a bunch.”
“Then what happens?”
He shrugged his shoulders, “I usually get a fever and stuff down there don’t work right anymore like with peeing. So, when I can, I try to get to the free clinic or see the doc at the shelter. I usually get antibiotics and new supplies and get sent on my way again. It’s a never-ending circle.”
I cuddled closer to him and he wrapped his arms around me tighter and as he pushed himself next to me, I laid my head on his chest, hearing his heart beat next to my ear.
For a moment we were quiet.
“I know you’ll go back out there and I won’t be there and we may not see each other for days but I’m already worried if you get sick or something. I wish you would at least have a phone so we could communicate. I want to get you a phone.”
His hand was stroking over my hair, “I can use my friend’s phone.”
“I want you to have your own phone. I want to get one for you. Tomorrow.”
“I can’t accept that.”
“I want to do this for you and I want you to let me please. I can’t do this if I don’t know where you are or having to wonder if you’re okay. Please let me do this for you.”
He didn’t protest anymore and I added, “We can go to the store tomorrow or something and I’ll get a phone for you.”
I nestled myself against him and he held me close and I felt his heart beat next to my ear and his breaths on my hair.
We actually didn’t speak but just lay there in each other’s arms.
I felt so much for him in those moments and I longed so much for it to always be that way.
I mumbled in his arms, “I wish we could kiss.”
Jordan was over me and replied, “I know, it sucks. Hopefully I’ll get the infection under control and then I feel better about it.”
I pushed myself even closer and Jordan let his fingers run over my back and through my hair.
I looked at him and his eyes scanned over my face, “Shay, I know this was a rough day for us, for you but I just want to let you know that it has also been the happiest day in my life because you have been…”
He stopped and bit his lips and then said softly, “Because despite the way I was and couldn’t articulate myself, you held on to me when I was seriously losing my grounding today. When I’m out there…”
He paused and took a deep breath, then continued, “When I’m out there I’m on my own with all of it and no one will pick me up or sit there while the stuff races through my body, making me incapable of reacting and making me numb. You being there and waiting it out with me meant a lot. I felt your presence even though I didn’t speak or do anything but I knew you were there and I felt like shit about not being able to articulate how glad I was that you were there.”
He lowered his eyes and when he looked up, I saw despair in his eyes and he continued, “Because I was also scared but I couldn’t do anything. I was…”
He took a trembling breath, “I was scared that my hit had been bad dope…and…”
It was difficult for him to finish, “I was scared to death really…but you were there and I wanted…I wanted nothing else but to tell you that I was okay and that I loved you but I wasn’t able to speak…I love you so much Shay.”
He swallowed the obvious lump in his throat and his eyes glistened now.
I nodded with my eyes on him, “So we were both scared.”
Jordan nodded and I said, “I love you too and I want you to always think of me when you’re scared to death. Our love will keep you alive.”
Jordan now pulled me close to him and held me and we lay in each other’s arms. Outside the world kept turning with life happening, while inside my apartment for a few fleeting moments time seemed to be standing still and I wanted those moments to last forever.