AIDS was… an illness in stages, a very long flight of steps that led assuredly to death, but whose every step represented a unique apprenticeship. It was a disease that gave death time to live and its victims time to die, time to discover time, and in the end to discover life.~ Hervé Guibert
The Letters Start Again
Continued from… Isaac Goes Home
When they returned home from the airport, the house seemed empty. Annie and Jacques were both off their stroke. To hide her sadness because of Isaac’s leaving, Annie went into a cleaning frenzy. In about two hours, she cleaned the house, and also took all decorations off the Christmas tree. Annie put all the decorations back into their different boxes, then took everything, including the Christmas tree, to the attic where they stored it for the rest of the year. Annie couldn’t bear looking at the Christmas tree anymore, as it reminded her too much of how much Isaac had enjoyed the Christmas with them.
Just before she retired to bed — earlier than normal — Annie called Kathy and Isaac’s mother. She told them Isaac was safely on the plane, on his way back home. Kathy told her she had already called Isaac’s doctor — Doctor Bailey — to arrange an appointment for Isaac. Isaac’s mother repeatedly expressed her thanks to Annie for their kindness towards her only child.
Early the next morning, before she went to her work, Annie sat down to write Isaac an e-mail. She prompted him to go to the doctor as soon as possible and to ask Doctor Bailey to do tests to find out what was wrong with his abdomen. She also asked him to inform her about his visit to the doctor as soon as he could.
It was only the next morning she heard from him.
He called her from South Africa to tell her he had seen the doctor. Apparently, the pain Isaac had from a couple of days after they had discharged him from the hospital in Rotterdam wasn’t caused by pancreatitis. There was a mass in his stomach cavity. This mass caused the periodic pain. He had to go for a CT scan so the doctors could determine what exactly the growth was.
Isaac also said he was happy to be in his own house again. He sounded calmer than he was when he had been with them in the last week of his visit.
The next day Isaac started sending e-mail again.
Date: Fri, 8 Jan 1999 13:45:12
Here I am, back in sunny South Africa, where everyone is still enjoying the summer holidays.
Don’t you dare protest, but I really can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me. “Thank you” doesn’t cover what I feel. Just wait and I will do something in return for you. Don’t you dare stop me. Remember, I have the sun and the mountain on my side.
This morning I went for the CT scan. The report is not available yet, but the radiologist said there’s nothing on it that can cause a problem. I wasn’t allowed to eat anything yesterday. I spent most of the day on the toilet, which caused some kind of blockage to come out. After this, I felt better — the uncomfortable feeling was gone. It is just a bit sensitive now. The hospital is still as bad as before. They sent two of the vials of my blood to the wrong place. I had to give them new blood again today. I’m not on any new medication yet. The doctor first wants to see the results of the blood tests. As soon as I know something, I will let you know.
On Monday I have to go back to work — not that I am in the mood for that! It seems people over here missed me. I don’t know why. I’m not that interesting.
Oh, and I still have to unpack my bags.
Yet again, thanks for everything. I cannot say it enough times.
On Sunday, early in the evening, Annie reinstated a habit she had before Isaac came to visit them — her weekly letter to Isaac. She told him about Priscilla’s visit that weekend, about their intention to celebrate Jacques’ birthday the next weekend and about her and Jacques investigating the possibilities to go to Amsterdam together for a weekend. She also asked Isaac how his neighbors were doing and, of course, how his stomach was feeling. Annie also wanted to know whether Isaac had the results of the blood test and the CT scan yet.
That same evening, she received a reply from Isaac.
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 21:58:57
I haven’t forgotten about you. I’m not back into routine yet and the uncomfortable feeling is almost getting the better of me. I woke up this morning at 4 o’clock because of the pain. The sweat ran down my face and body and the pain made me vomit. This is now happening frequently. I almost got into my car to drive to the airport. Just like that, without luggage.
But I’m up and about again. The pain is gone and I have to go to work tomorrow. How nice. I have unpacked my bags and now when I go to bed, I’m not falling over everything anymore. Yesterday the neighbor, Billy, was here. He watched the evening movie on television with me. When he saw my lights on early this morning, he called me. He pretends to be good, but I don’t think his depression is over. He is also forgetful. I think that his medicine causes that.
Not much news on this side. I will write again when I have something to tell.
Annie only read this e-mail the next day. She had the flu and asked Jacques to write something to Isaac. She only added a short piece of text in which she bombarded Isaac with questions. She was worried about him, thinking that the pain might be the same pain for which he had been hospitalized in the Netherlands.
To be continued… A Cyst And A Lump
Note: This series is a rework of a self-published book (2009), rewritten for this blog, and in loving memory of a dear friend who suffered from and passed because of AIDS. Keep in mind this story happens in the late eighties and throughout the nineties. Names of characters have been changed to protect their privacy.
© Rebel’s Notes
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