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It’s only thanks to my archive of our Gchat conversations—me from my work computer, he from our apartment’s couch or his hospital bed—that I remember that we called gabapentin his “Guptas.” They were brown, like the skin of Dr. The Dilaudid pills he took for breakthrough pain were “hydros,” a nickname for the drug listed on the label, hydromorphone hydrochloride. Clark: man, my left leg is useless I really hope this chemo helps I can barely use it anymore Me: i know it will work. see you in like 45 minutes snoopy Clark: cause i can’t seem to think of when I can get a nap in BEFORE practice cause when you get home I just want to hang with you Me: yes, take a nap! It involved a drug called high-dose IL-2, which stimulates white blood cells to grow and divide in an attempt to overtake the cancer.
Clark: figure I’ll notice there first Me: you never know Clark: when are you leaving? Clark: k i love you Me: i will get gatorades and ensures. The treatment has a slim chance of success but it’s one of the only regimens approved specifically for melanoma by the FDA.
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I slink off to the bathroom with my head down, ignoring my friends at the bar, when I catch a glimpse of his obituary, which hangs on the back of a door at the Black Cat, the bar where we met.
I go looking for evidence of our partnership that’s not tied to a memory of me sleeping on two chairs pushed together next to his hospital bedside.
Patients are typically bedridden with dizzying flulike symptoms and are uncharacteristically irritable or moody. He had a high fever and soiled the bed again and again during his second IL-2 treatment.
One time, after I held up his body so that the nurse could change the sheets, he shit as soon as I placed him down. It was the only time during his illness that I elected not to sleep next to him.
The way we spoke to each other about what I’d bring home for dinner or whether it was a PBR or a Grolsch kind of night. The second surgery, which removed the cancer’s recurrence from underneath the tender flesh of the first, was June 11. I spent a lot of time after his death looking at photographs of us camping, at a friend’s wedding, with my family at our first Thanksgiving.
In nearly every conversation, there is something that releases the pressure from my chest by forcing a giant laugh. Me: yes i had soup and chips but whatever someone else has smells delish Clark: k just as long as you ate something how do you spell Bodasifa? He was hospitalized from November 11–19 and again from December 1–6. Clark: oh baby do not say sorry Me: i really was just exhausted! Clark: I totally understand i know you were so tired and I know that you want to make sure I’m going to be okay and safe and really makes me want to cry Clark: i feel the same way about you I want to always want to make sure you are safe and warm and comfortable Clark: and I didn’t mean to yell but you are so stubborn Me: no i know haha SO ARE YOU, for the record Clark died two months later. I listened to “The Ocean” by Sunny Day Real Estate, the song he heard when he imagined me walking down the aisle at our wedding.
I don’t know exactly when we first said I love you, but the first email exchange containing the phrase, which he casually includes before signing off, is dated October 3 of that year.