So -- why not just start fresh....
I was going to wait until I could get the whole chapter done -- but might as well post page by page..
Chapter One -- Searching for Evil
Her hand was yellow in mine, which seemed almost red in comparison. It was also puffy and swollen with waste fluids her heart was no longer strong enough to evacuate from the distance of the extremity. A red puncture mark on the back of that distended limb echoed where the needle of an IV had resided for a couple of days until it was removed and placed in the other. From 1966 until 1998 this hand had been part of a body of incredible strength, skill, and beauty. But now it had betrayed her. Tiny mutated cells from her uterus had decided on their own to migrate throughout her body and start growing elsewhere. This had happened all quite without her permission. In time those malignant cells would take root in her brain, as well -- indeed -- we all were soon to find out they were already moving in.
I could tell the pain was starting to overcome the power of the morphine. Lying there on the hospital bed beside her was a blue button at the end of a not long enough cord attached to an innocuous looking blue box hanging on the IV stand. I reached down to the button and asked her if I should give it a push. She tried to remember what I was talking about as the pain, morphine, and cancer sometimes confused her to the point that short term memory no longer functioned. I reminded her it would take away the pain. A pain she had likened to lying down against hot coals. She was no pansy when it came to pain either. She was a military officer who'd seen action. She'd been the victim of violent crime. She was a body-builder and martial arts expert. She'd endured what some call is the worst pain a woman forgets -- that of childbirth. But this pain, this constant pain, constant nausea, constant confusion, this pain -- had beaten her.
I pushed the button and a little hum meant the volumetric dispenser had injected a few more cc's of morphine into her IV. In a few seconds she stopped convulsing from the pain and turned to look at me again with tearful eyes. We spoke a few minutes. She told me things that she wanted me to hear before she couldn't say them anymore. Promises she wanted me to keep. Things about me. Things lovers say to their loves. And she knew me. She could feel the pain wrapped in my own heart with every beat her own struggled through.
She squeezed my hand. She paused. It seemed as though she was trying to emphasize the next sentence and wanted to make sure I was paying attention. She was very deliberate and lucid for a moment as a solitary tear journeyed down her face.
"There is only one true evil," she said "to be disconnected from the universe".
I told her I knew that, and understood, as I kissed her and told her to sleep well. Her eyes closed and she drifted off. I held her hand until her dad suggested I should probably go before she awakened again. There would be things, procedures and the like, that would need to be done. I left the room, left the hospital, somehow realizing that she was already gone. Her body would awaken four or five times a day over the next week but she'd left the building--so to speak.
If there was evil in the universe I was sure this was it. We'd had our debates. Even if I was fortunate enough to win one I knew it was because she was just letting me be the man. But now I knew she was wrong. If there was evil in the universe I had surely just seen it. A body's own mechanisms turning against it and ravishing the most beautiful woman in the world with incredible pain as it slowly killed her. That was evil. But her words -- in the words someone else used-- fell to the floor of my brain and took root.
She would have said pain is a teacher. Pain isn't bad. It tells us what we need to know. When there's pain we need only look for the lesson in front of us. What was the lesson here? Simplistic answers abound. Don't smoke could be one of them. But does that make smoking evil? If so then what qualifies as evil? Mummies have been excavated in China where the cause of death was years of inhaling sand and sediment as it was blown across the plains by harsh winds. Certainly people are maimed and killed by the wind itself. Is the wind evil? To those who drown at sea the water may be evil. But to the descendents of brave pilgrims, indentured servants, who sacrificed to build a new nation the water was good. To the Native Americans displaced by the newcomers -- to the slaves taken by force --the water may have been evil. The bite is evil to the heel but the heel is evil to the snake. Where do we turn to find evil? What did she mean? -- to be disconnected -- from the universe?