Off the Shelf
Leave a comment

Dying from a Butterfly

There is a white ball of yarn that rests on the chair beside me. I drag the free end, extend the thread and wrap it around the knitting needle to begin my stitch. I think I’ll try to make a scarf until my husband tries to speak again.

It has been a week in the hospital, since the fall that brought us here. It wasn’t his first fall, but now he is only able to move the right side of his body, barely able to speak. When we first came, scans were done, blood was drawn and somehow, the unexpected became the anticipated. By the time my white coat army arrived, I already knew what news would come.

I never understood the Zen of knitting until my husband was diagnosed with cancer. Knitting has become a physical manifestation of time itself, and as I stitch each memory into the white scarf, I feel a strange sense of comfort. With every pull of the thread, the ball turns in an unpredictable manner, but the thread goes in one direction, and I am still left here in the hospital room, my husband somnolent.

The cancer is in the brain, and it is beautiful. I’ve seen the pictures. I’ve done the research. The butterfly glioma is an impressive sight. But so too are normal butterflies. Was this once a caterpillar? What magnificent metamorphosis had occurred in my husband’s brain? When I look at the pictures, I can still see the silk of the cocoon outlining the path of the butterfly’s wings. There is no cure, only time.

Another week has passed and the doctors look to me for direction. My husband’s illness has progressed. Most of his time is now filled with sleep, and he speaks twice in the morning on good days. My white coat army voices concerns — everyone sensing what decision needs to be made. And I know my husband shouldn’t live this way, but who am I to make that decision? And won’t that damned butterfly make the decision for me?

Frustration fills the room. The doctors leave the cenotaph, but I stay with my husband. The white scarf lays in a semi-circle around my neck, a work in progress. But the ball of yarn still has turns to make.

Benjamin Gandomani Benjamin Gandomani (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Oklahoma College of Medicine

Medical student with aspirations for music, art, and mankind.