I imagine laying in a bed as an old man.
My life is almost over; but the curse is, not yet.
My family has moved on. They have lots of life left. I understand I am a burden. I don’t want to be a burden on them. I want them to enjoy their lives. I don’t complain. I don’t call. I wait to die.
I lived my life on the edge of poverty. I had nothing when I could no longer work. Social security pays me a few hundred bucks. It floats into my account every month and co-pays and other little bills take it all.
Sadly this means I am stuck in a nursing home. It’s a big facility. Hundreds of men and women like me.
All waiting to die.
All cursed with dying too slow.
Everything I once owned that I considered valuable has been lost or stolen. The TV has six channels, which doesn’t matter because I can’t work the remote so its stuck on a channel with noise on it to keep away the loneliness. I can’t read because my eyes don’t work well anymore.
I am a prisoner in my own body.
I don’t look in the mirror, because the person looking back is unrecognizable. I can’t shave myself anymore, my hands shake too much. I don’t use the bathroom anymore because my legs can’t support my weight. I wear a diaper under a hospital gown supplied by the home. I am fed the same five meals week in and week out.
I am completely dependent on the staff.
My beard is shaved every morning by a woman who hates her life. She is fat. She smells like cigarettes, unwashed clothes, and coconut-butter lotion.
She likes to hurt me just a little bit. She shaves the loose skin on my face as if I disgust her. Every morning she misses large spots of stumble and shaves to hard in spots leaving razor burn and small cuts. She rubs the wounds with alcohol soaked cotton balls.
It stings. She makes tears come to my eyes. She steals away my dignity. She makes me feel weak.
The worst part is that if I complain, if I tell her she missed a spot, or she is hurting me, she will go get the orderly to hold me down. This man detests his job. He lives in poverty. He works long hours and deals in human waste. He watches people die. I can see on his face he recognizes this is where he will end up one day.
The more I struggle the worse things get. The orderly will hold me down and give me bruises, he will break bones. No one will care. The only people I have to complain to are the nurses-aid who shaves and bathes me and the orderly who holds me down, takes away my filthy leavings and brings me food.
At night the staff watches sit-coms and ignores the cries from the patients.
Not one person likes what they do. Not the living not the dying.
The nurse who takes my blood and numbers that make me human doesn’t speak English very well. She gave up learning. This was not the American Dream she came to this country for. She is depressed and doesn’t care anymore. She misses home, but now this is her home. When she is done examining me and checking my bruises and broken bones she sends the information off to a doctor in India who never actually touches me.
They all wait for me to die. I look forward to the day I can give them what they want.