I walked into the ward last night at 5pm to find Alex with her head on the bed just below Todd’s pillow and her long black hair spread out across his chest. Todd, who normally naps around this time, was wide awake and had his eyes fixed adoringly on his sleeping wife. As I stood there looking at them, the tears started welling up in my eyes like I was a little old lady! These two are so strong when they’re around each other. What an inseparable duo!
I’m not the only one who’s charmed by these two lovers. Todd and Alex are darlings of the nurses who naturally gravitate over to them during the course of the day. There’s Stacy, the plain talking (let’s not say “indiscreet”) Canadian. There’s Kati, who’s kind of like a good aunt and a dominatrix at the same time. Kati has an amazing power over Todd: she is always trying to push him a little further. But my current new favorite is Ed—or, as I like to call him, Freddy—because he is damn proud of his Freddy Mercury impersonation, which is a total riot. Today, he brought us a picture of himself in complete concert regalia and—except for Freddy’s famous overbite—he was a spitting image.
Todd can wear his glasses again and this makes a big difference. He loves looking at the things going on around him and he devours pictures—especially from architecture magazines. The museum has a nice collection of art on the walls, and the two go off on a viewing tour in Todd’s wheelchair, with Todd wearing his black hoodie and the cool new pants his sister bought him. They inevitably end up in a corner somewhere where they just sit and have quiet time. Tonight, by a window at the end of the hall, Alex read some poems of Pablo Neruda to Todd—the same verses that Todd used to send to Alex in his many love letters.
I should say that things have been quite difficult since Todd’s serious seizures. Stacy, who wheeled him into ICU a couple of weeks ago, told me how fast she’d run to get him there, and how worried she’d been at the time. He’s coming back slower than he did the first time around, but there are good signs: no more breathing tube, and now that his throat is recovering from that painful object, he is respiring easy, swallowing without pain, and resting a LOT more calmly. He and Alex need to be around each other to find the inspired patience that will keep the healing going on its steady forward plod. They give everything they have to each other, and the people around them also give more when they see this.
Here’s hoping the New Year brings Todd home!
I am ticked off at Todd.
When I walked into his room today his eyes were alert, his face was flushed pink and he looked excited, like he had a thing or two on his mind. He waited patiently until I put a chair beside him and sat down. “Do you have something you want to say, Champ?” I asked. He took a bunch of deep breaths and then… he stuck his tongue out.
“Did you just stick out your tongue at me? I don’t believe that!”
This mischievous glow came over him and he started working himself up. Then, after a pretty good effort, he stuck it out again, further this time. “Damn it, Todd” I said. “You set me up!”
We’d been trying to get him to do that little trick for days as he was coming off the sedatives, and he’d been holding out on us. So last night before we left I joked (in front of witnesses, unfortunately) that if he stuck out his tongue I would buy Alex dinner. Alex was pretty excited. No McDonalds. She wanted French. “So if you do it,” she told Todd, “it’s like you’re buying me dinner yourself.”
So OF COURSE the first thing he does when I come in the next day is, he pokes that evil thing out at me. “All right,” I said. “You’re feeling better, aren’t you? Do you know how many euros you may have cost me to prove it?”
So… anybody planning on holding another benefit soon? And could you throw in a little something for Alex’s entrecôte?
Maybe it’s just because Alex has been steadily bombarding me with DVDs of sappy chick flicks (tonight was “Bridget Jones”) but I’ve found myself wondering: How many people could be as truly loving as Todd? To be shackled by a mutinous body for weeks, and the first time he has the chance to prove how much he cares about his girl, he comes through. Sayonara, Hugh Grant!
A few minutes later (as if to rub it in) Todd worked his fingers into a fist. But he wasn’t done showing off. He’s chomping at the bit to get his body back to work again. After a bout of heavy breathing and a pretty good sweat, he raised his head up, maybe an inch—and then his shoulders came towards each other and partly off the pillow.
I haven’t been that pumped up since Johnny Damon’s grand slam in the second inning of the 2004 ALCS. Then—as now—there was still a LONG way to go in the game. But you could just tell we had it in the bag!