Strong is what I need her to be. What we are facing now, I’m afraid, is a different kind of battle.
Her doctor cannot be right. Can he? The only reason I’m taking her to that procedure is to rule out what he is considering, to prove him wrong. That word he used is trembling on my tongue. It is too tough for me to say, too painful to imagine. It cannot be true. I can’t let it! Any calamity will be better than that, even cancer, because that can, perhaps, be cured. Not so Alzheimer’s.
Someone’s crying, and I think it’s me.
In the distance I spot the bus. Turning to Natasha I say, softly, “Hold on to me, dear,” but I have no idea if she heard me, because a sudden gust of wind has stolen away my words.
She smiles, leans her head against my shoulder. For the duration of the touch, everything around us seems to vanish, even my worries. I gather her gently into my arms, holding her like a breath.
Instinctively Natasha nuzzles up to me.
In a heartbeat I cup her face in my hands and there we stand, both of us in awe of the moment, kissing. Her lips are both sweet and salty.
Then I whisper, “Hold me holding you.”
And in my mind I add, You must, my love! Because if this disease, which I don’t even want to name, gets hold of you, then... Then, what will remain between us? What will I do but wonder, and be ashamed of myself for wondering: which one of us is about to stop living? Is it you or is it me?
The most cherished thing you gave me, Natasha, the one I can still rescue for us, is this: our past. I should capture each moment, wrap it up—ever so carefully—in words, so our passion may continue to blossom on this page, even as we decline.
Lenny in Dancing with Air
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