Tuesday, 29 September 2009 - 10:30 pm

The final struggle

Matt got worse last night. He was writhing and making wordless, painful noises – that’s what dragged me away from yesterday’s post. For a while, all I could do was hold him down so he didn’t hurt himself.

I begged him to stop. My heart was thrashing in denial because my head kept whirling with ‘this is it, this is the end’. Dread crept over me like clammy ice. I can’t have them both. It’s not allowed, and so he was being taken away.

He was fighting so hard and I couldn’t help but think he would lose. This was the last of his strength, spinning itself out in a last-ditch attempt to shake off the infection.

When he started to calm, it was out of exhaustion rather than victory. He was shaking and gasping, snatching at the air while his limbs settled down on the bed again. Don’t go, I said to him. Don’t leave me. Stay. Stay here. I can’t lose you like I lost Dillon. I just can’t. You mean too much to me.

We went around like that twice more last night. Each time, he was weaker when he finished struggling. Each time, I was convinced that we were done, that he’d finally had enough.


Shortly before dawn, it was the fever that broke. Matt drifted down into a quiet slumber and the catch left his breathing. I didn’t know whether to trust it or not, so I sat up watching him, tracking the rise and fall of his chest, sponging off his face and neck. Looking for any sign that he was still in trouble.

The orange sunlight had crept over most of the room by the time he woke. He groaned and blinked up at me, then he said that I looked terrible. That wasn’t the phrase he used, but it was enough to make me laugh the kind of laugh that is all sharp edges and desperate relief. I cut it short before I slid into weeping. I feel like I’ve done little other than cry lately.

I managed to get him to eat something. I wanted to keep him awake, keep him talking and looking at me, but I let him fall asleep again. It’s good sleep now – it’s the rest he needs. He’s weak and pale, but his temperature is coming down and he’s over the worst of it. I’m too nervous to say that he’s on the mend, but that’s what it looks like.

I was so tired that I fell asleep not long after he did this morning. Simon woke me up, asking what I was doing. A small, mean part of me thinks he knew that I had been up for the past three nights and had only just gone to sleep, but I’m trying not to listen to it. He said there was work to do and I rolled over and went back to sleep. If it was an emergency, he would have woken me again, but he didn’t.


I don’t know if it’s because I’m tired or because of the draining events of the past few days, but I’m finding it hard to believe that Matt is going to be okay now. I want to be relieved but something is coiled too tightly inside me. It’s poised, holding its breath. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop and I have no idea what colour it is.

Sometimes, I tell myself I’m being paranoid and silly; it is what it looks like. I just can’t feel that right now. I want to curl up on his shoulder and sleep, and know that he’ll be all right when I wake up. But there’s no room for me on the bed and I can’t bring myself to have that much faith.

Also, something is bothering me about the soup that I gave him. Not the soup itself – that was fine, I made sure – but the can it was in. I just can’t put my finger on what’s bothering me.

Hopefully things will make more sense in the morning.