Big Exit

Seven days after we cut out your voice box, you announced that you were leaving. You flung yourself off the bed, ripped at your hospital gown and propelled yourself down eleven flights of stairs with the precise, dramatic flair of a seasoned, stage actor. You were a sight to see.

I followed you down, down, down; my blue scrubs, too big, slipping down over my hips as I ran. There was no stopping you.

We were together the night before when, frenzied, you’d ripped out the plastic tube dangling from your nose. We cried together about the unfairness of your cancer. You lamented letting us do this to you. I pulled out all the stops, telling you how much we cared for you as a human, and that we were human, too. 

Your nurse and I got you back upstairs eventually, but not before you mooned me outside the hospital’s entrance, pulling down your fleece pajamas with the skull-and-bones print. In the cold, morning breeze, you waggled your skinny behind. Then, furiously, you pantomimed smoking through the hole in your neck through which you now breathed: a new orifice you insisted we’d talked you into, it being better than suffocating.

I’m sure before we cut you up you were a first-class diva; even voiceless you were not without voice. As I left your room, you used your iPhone to call me unprintable filth. 

You calmed down, and we let you sign the papers absolving us of any responsibility after you left the hospital. Against medical advice, risk of death, death, death documented and counter-signed. No hard feelings, I said, handing over your prescriptions knowing there was only one you would fill. You met my gaze, and I reminded you of your appointment two days later. I liked you, after all. What a performance.

You didn’t show up to clinic, of course. Your body was burned beyond hope of salvage before anyone could pull you out of your car. I know you did it on purpose. I imagine you tear-streaked behind the wheel, jaw set, music blasting, turning towards the trees. I hope you drank yourself numb; I hope you had the night you were looking for. You made the news, it broke my heart, you were on TV.

Alessandra Colaianni
Boston, Massachusetts


1 thought on “Big Exit”

  1. Ronna Edelstein

    What a sad story! Yet, the “you” in the story exercised their freedom of choice to live–and die–as they chose. While I feel great sympathy for the “you” described here, I also feel admiration for that person’s courage–to end their life with an exclamation mark, not a comma or even a period. Thank you, Ms. Colaianni, for sharing this experience with Pulse readers.

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