I sat in a stiff wooden chair, laid my head in my lap and wept quietly. The tears raged out of me with a vengeance and I couldn’t pretend things were ok anymore. “I can’t lose him,” were the words that rang over and over in my head as I prayed for help to every god and dead relative I could think of, even my beloved little grey haired cat Shadow. The appearance of the room somehow made it all worse, resembling the setting of a Sam Sheppard play, it’s dingy drabness helped to make the nightmare that much more real. We had travelled there to see a volcano we would never get the chance to see, already sleep and nutrient deprived I was dealing with this situation worse than I would have had I been 100%. He lay motionless, hair soaking wet with sweat, droplets dripping down his whole body as fast as water from a shower head. “You’re going to be ok, you’re getting better,” I said. Trying to convince him as much as I was trying to convince myself. Feelings of helplessness and loss of control shot through me like lightning bolts as I used every last ounce of energy to hold it together and think of what to do. Constant cold compresses to head and feet as I fought the fire that fought back from within him. “Please drink some more water and juice,” I pleaded. Worried he was dehydrated, worried he would throw up, worried there wouldn’t be a store open when he would be well enough for me to leave again. Part of me knew he needed rest, the other part wanted to take his temperature every fifteen minutes. Our days were ruled by the numbers on the thermometer, 100 and lower meant a few moments of peace, 102 and higher meant racked nerves and jumping in a cold shower as quickly as possible. The situation wouldn’t have felt so dire if we weren’t what felt like at the edge of the earth or the middle of nowhere. No hospital, no doctors whose expertise I would trust, no security just sheer cold cruel terror. I tried to use any medical knowledge I acquired from having been a sick child, worked in hospitals and having one of the best nurses in the world as my mom. What does hell sound like to overly sensitive ears due to exhaustion and raw emotion? It sounds like a noisy hotel on a busy street with prayers in a foreign language being badly projected over a loud speaker, and fireworks going off at random distances. All this distracting me from what felt like the appropriate thing to do at the time, watch and listen for his breath. I couldn’t read or sleep so it felt like the right thing to do. I needed to be ready if there was a change. If things got worse, I would know right away so I could fix it. Could I? What would I do? Go out into the hall and scream for help? Would anyone come? Would anyone understand me? We needed to get out a.s.a.p. to somewhere bigger, somewhere that wouldn’t make this difficult situation feel even worse. He needed to get better first, so all I could do was wait. Wait and go onto the scary streets once again for more water and the Indonesian version of “Poweraid.” Walking down the street felt like stepping right into the middle of a circus where I seemed to be the starring act. The noise, heat and car exhaust was enough to bring me to my knees; I felt desperate and simply wanted it all to go away. The stares, pointing and laughter made me rush through the streets with my head down and eyes covered. “He needs me; I have to get back there,” were the thoughts that kept me going. The thoughts that kept my body moving as quickly as it could. All nightmares do eventually come to a very vivid end. Sometimes when you’re not actually asleep while having one, it’s hard to see the ray of light shining through somewhere far off in the distance. As I turned my head and glanced out the plane window the whole thing felt very unreal to me, the way the scenery always looks when you’re on a plane. As if it would disappear in a big puff of smoke if I laid my fingers on it a little too hard. Fast asleep next to me he was getting better and everything was going to be ok. When the plane landed in Singapore two tears of joy quietly streamed down my face.
“It’s finally over.”