Master Piece

Procedure after procedure, they chisel away at him.

It makes me think of a sculptor who starts with a piece of rock

and then,

bit by bit,

removes pieces

here and there

until it no longer looks like a dull piece of stone,

but instead a new creation.

However,

his shape was perfect to begin with.

I’ve known that face, those limbs, that neck

since I was 16-years-old.

I loved it then and I love it now

even though it has been altered

piece by piece,

procedure after procedure.

It’s as if the sculptor is working backwards.

Taking a masterpiece and breaking it apart

bit by bit, chisel in hand,

a piece of the earlobe here, a slice of the neck there,

half of the tongue, all of the bladder, much of the nose, rows of lymph nodes removed,

never seeming to be satisfied with a work of art that was perfect to begin with.

I want to rip that chisel from his hands, fling it into the sea, burn all of the other chisels in the land just like the spinning wheels in Sleeping Beauty, make it so that chiseling is no longer an option in this world.

But instead,

I sit there and I watch as they chisel.

I make polite conversation about Halloween costumes and the weather.

I am a passive observer as they chisel away and, when they finish,

instead of punching them in the face

reporting them to the authorities

hurling their chisels into the abyss

I thank them.

Thank them for taking away more pieces of my beloved work of art.

Thank them, knowing that he is not like a starfish

those pieces will not regenerate.

They are gone forever.

That bit of earlobe that I nibbled on as a smitten teenager and snore into as an exhausted adult

is now gone.

They do their work well, so the outside observer cannot tell that so much has been taken.

But I know.

I’ve spent more of my life with him than without

and I know and I miss every single piece that is gone.

Someday all of him will be taken from me.

And while my brain knows that each of these procedures is meant to prolong that departure,

my heart feels as if

they are trying to steal parts of him away during these precious moments while he’s still here with me,

making these numbered days ones of pain, trauma, bandages, and ointments.

I despise and resent them for it,

and while I do

I schedule the next procedure.