from my diary, 17 February 2013
There was still blood on his hands.
It was dried, crusted around his fingertips and curdled in his palms. The colour blood that comes from holding a gun under your chin and pulling the trigger. Dark, heavy.
The blood was more arresting than the bandage around his forehead, warning everyone that he no longer had a forehead. The blood was more frightening than the sheer amount of IV lines beside his bed, than the blinking lights of the monitor, than the tube down his throat helping him breath.
I wanted to cry at the blood on his hands.
I filled a bowl with soap and warm water, sat in the chair at his bedside and cleaned his hands. I took his left one in my own, cautious of the inked suicide note on his forearm, and washed the blood from the creases in his palms, from skin of his knuckles, from beneath his fingertips.
I talked to the boy as I worked, gentle murmurs of love and encouragement, several reiterations of his name, almost chanting it as though it were the magic spell to make him well again—to make him whole.
My hands had been shaking that morning when I’d first seen him, when I’d talked to the family, when I’d understood. They were steady now, movements tenderhearted and coming from somewhere brave within me.
When the water was cool and had taken on a reddish tinge, I changed it for clean water, for warm water. I needed to scrub to get the blood from under his fingernails, holding them up to my face as though it were the most delicate endeavor and wanting to get it perfect.
I’d never known it was possible to feel so much for a single human being without even having met him, having looked into his eyes, having had him speak to me. Somehow the sight of him was enough to kindle the tenderest part of my heart.
I didn’t cry that day. I didn’t cry at the blood on his hands. I didn’t cry when he was able to squeeze his hands and wiggle his toes. I didn’t cry when his mother started talking to him and his heart rate jumped in recognition. I didn’t cry when his younger sister revealed that he’d told her he was feeling extremely sad and she’d promised not to tell anyone. I didn’t cry when his father told me that his son had still been talking to him after he’d shot himself.
I cried today, though. I’m crying now. I can’t seem to stop crying.