The pages of his life were too tenuous to handle. Too tenuous to handle.
No matter how many ways he thought of that line. No matter how many times he reordered the words, it was all the same. Strange words. Out of order. In order. Out of place.
None of them made sense.
Someone had said that of him, “The pages of his life are too tenuous to handle.”
Tenuous. Tenuous. Ten. Yooo. Is.
Ten you is.
Ten ten tenuous. Ten tenuous u’s. Ten tenuous yous.
He sighed and closed his eyes.
She would be coming again today. Pretty young lady with blonde hair and a sad smile.
Is that what tenuous meant? Was tenuous a sad smile? “The pages of his life are too tenuous to handle.” No, that didn’t seem right. But tenuous clearly was not a happy word. It wasn’t sunshine and sundresses and sun-filled drinks in the summer light.
It sounded like something old and tired and on the verge of breaking.
He wondered if that were him. Tenuous.
There was a knock on the door and the door cautiously opened. So, he opened his eyes.
The pretty blonde entered the room. “Dad?”
He watched her careful approach. Her watched her with wordless curiosity.
She is pretty. This I know.
She is young. I know this too.
Too tenuous. Too ten.
What was ten again?
She took his hand and squeezed it. “They said you’re doing better.”
Better? Is tenuous better? Better is tenuous. Ten betters? Ten better you is better?
“But you still haven’t spoken.” Her gaze travelled over his face. “Your color is good.”
That’s what this conversation is. Tenuous. Tenuous walking. Tenuous talking. Tenuous placement of words. Maybe the wrong word would make something break. Something crack. Something snap loud and frightening like ice on a pond. Ice on a pond.
Tenuous skates. Trying to stay steady. Trying to stay straight up and down. Until the ice cracked and everything was down.
“I guess.” She grabbed the bedrail. Her hands didn’t know where else to go. Didn’t know what else to grab. What else to hold on to. “I’m glad you’re alive. We lost you. For a few minutes after they pulled you out, we lost you. But you’re back. You’re alive.”
Alive in tenuousness.
Too tenuous to handle.
What happens next?
“They’re going to keep you here a little longer.” Her hands held onto the rail so tight. So terribly tight. Her knuckles were white. “Then, they’ll move you into an extended care home.”
Her sad smile became sadder until it wasn’t a smile anymore. “I miss you, Dad. I wish you could come home.” She sniffled. “But you need care. So much care.”
Too much care.
Tears welled up in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Dad.”
His tears fell.
Too many too far too broken.
“His life is too tenuous for them to handle.” That was what they had said. They had said that about him. Him. His life. His own life. Tenuous.
As easy to break as ice.
His tears kept falling. But they weren’t cold ice water and he was glad of that. But his tears fell and fell. Droplets chasing each other in matching lines. Like raindrops on a window. Running down. Racing down. Chasing down. Dribbling. Drooling.
She hugged him. “I love you.” She hugged him fiercely. “I will visit you. I promise I will visit you.”
She was not tenuous.
She was strong.
And he was breakable.
So easily broken.
Just like very thin ice.