Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease or CJD. A brain disease that causes anxiety, memory loss, loss of motor skills and many other problems. In the end, it results in dementia and death. There is no cure found yet. The only thing we can do is make the patient’s life as much easier as possible. It’s such a rare disease, that it affect one person per million per year. Our house could have been a drug dealer’s house for all the containers of Opioids we had which I had to provide Anjali to ease the pain
I always wanted to take Anjali to her dream destinations and do things she always wanted to. Only, I didn’t have a job that let me earn six ﬁgures. I was just an engineer. Of course I have been saving up for almost a year now for a vacation where we would do all the things she wanted. It was hard as it was without me having a time constraint of a year. I can’t save her. I knew that. I accepted that. But I couldn’t just let her go without keeping my promise to take her to all the places she wanted. I had merely a couple of months before she would slip into a coma.
Of course, the money was still an issue but I managed to do extra work, do parallel jobs and also get home in time to give her the medications. For over 2 weeks, I struggled, but after seeing her face as we reached Long Beach, it was all worth it. The only problem
was, she never knew, knew that this would be her last vacation, but I had to tell her. I had to make her understand. God give me strength.
Soon, we reached home. It was just in time too, she was getting weaker and weaker. I still hadn’t told her, until one night during dinner, “This headache is killing me.” I reached out to grab her hand. She looked at me, confused. There were times I simply grabbed her hand and made cheesy declarations of love that she used to adore. But I usually had a playful expression on my face, not one that suggested I was about to break apart, like I was just trying to take it all in, her face, her eyes, her smile, her.
“What is it?”
“It’s just, there’s something I need to say. I uh…. The thing is…. I…”
“I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. Tell her that she’s dying each second. But I had to. “Look, I don’t know how to say this but… I just… Will you marry me?”
Saying she was surprised was an understatement. She was deﬁnitely delighted but she did not expect that. Also, knowing me, she expected something along the lines of romantic music, exotic beach etc etc, not in our dining room, to the sounds of crickets in the garden and I wasn’t even on my knee. She looked at me playfully
“I’ll think about it.” she said with a teasing smile. And then she just hugged me. “If course I’ll marry you, do you know how long I’ve waited to hear you say that?!” I pretended to be happy and that, that was what I planned to say, but inside I was just annoyed that I couldn’t bring myself to tell her. Soon we both were on the couch cuddled together, her head on my shoulders, me stroking her silky black hair.
“What is it?” “What?” “I know there’s something troubling you. Tell me.” she said, sitting up straight. I looked at her, trying to muster the strength to do it. Her eyes boring into mine. I never failed to get lost in those eyes on a daily basis, but I couldn’t afford to today. “Look, I don’t know how to say this, but I have to before things get any worse. I’m just going to be blunt here.
You… Your condition. Its… bad… Like really bad. The headache, the episodes, the memory loss…. Its a condition that… That has no cure. But it is rare. Like one person per million or something.” I didn’t know what I was saying. I just kept trying to ﬁnd something to ease the realization. To help her to not simply fall apart. “I guess I really am your one in a million, aren’t I?” A tear rolled down her face following the lines of her forced smile.
I guess it was not her, but me who was going to break down. She was always a strong girl. Even now in the face of death, she’s cracking jokes. It simply makes me fall apart further and further to see her like this. “So, how… How long… Do I have?” Her smile slowly faded. “A year… At max,” I replied. I felt a little better that I had got it out of me, but it was not to last as I saw her battling to keep her composure. We sat there all night, huddled in a blanket on the couch as the gravity of reality dawned on her and me trying to etch as much of her and the feeling of her next to me, into my mind. But our troubles would only begin.
It was as if her mind had split in two. Every day was a battle for her sanity against herself. Bad odds. It wasn’t long before she slipped into a coma. She just laid on the bed, her charismatic and cheery personality, trapped in her own motionless body. Her eyes moved, observing everything. Her ears, trying to pick up every sound. I keep wondering if she even recognized me all those time I sat next to her, wondering if she recognized all her favorite songs I played on her stereo, I wonder if she even remembered the photo of us I placed beside her bed, taken on the day of our wedding. It was a day I will never forget, me in my black tuxedo which she adored, her in a beautiful wedding dress, lying in our bed at our home. It was a small ceremony, only our closest friends and family attended. It was beautiful. Daffodils and wine, a large vanilla cake and of course, black current ice cream. It would have been her dream wedding, if she wasn’t trapped in a dream. A dream that would soon come to an end.
A few weeks later, on a bright sunny day, the sparrows danced in the sky, the beautiful fluffy clouds glided along the blue sky. The cool breeze whistling past the trees, the smell of daffodils from our garden, the voices of cheerful children playing, vehicles zooming by. It was a perfect sunny day and I was in my room putting my black tuxedo on. I looked towards our bed, which shone in the golden sunlight. Empty.
I would never forget the day I kissed her forehead one last time. I just felt so devastated. Every day I saw her suffer, I watched helplessly. Her last days were simply suffering, but I only hope she ﬁnds peace wherever she goes and will wait for me on a bench under a tree on a hill. Waiting for me to sneak up on her and kiss her neck, daffodils hidden behind my back.
Of course, life wasn’t done yet. You see, my suffering had only reached halfway. The other half didn’t waste any time getting to me. Luckily, I wouldn’t really understand most of the rest of my life.
Of course, it’s just an assumption
“What? Never seen a human before?” She asked, turning to me, “You didn’t listen to a word I said, did you?”
“Yeah yeah, I was listening, so the cottage in Italy, and the grapevines and the… Yeah I wasn’t listening.” I ended with an awkward smile as I sat up straight on the bench.
Come back on Christmas to find out what happens at the end of the Series @ Ep 4: Damage, Debris & Clear Skies.