"You're a sweet guy, and obviously I think you're really talented, but I don't think I can give you what you need out of a relationship. I'd love to hang out, maybe go to the symphony or something, but I don't think we can be anything more than friends."
I thought I was being kind. It was a good break up...except maybe I should have told him in person. Maybe even called him instead of...well...texting him on Saturday morning.
Actually, there is no maybe. It was shitty. It was gutless. Especially given the circumstances of those last few days of the relationship.
I sent the text after receiving and ignoring text after text and phone call after unreturned phone call beginning at midnight as Friday turned into Saturday.
"Are you there?"
"I just left you a message."
"Why are you ignoring me?"
"Did I do to piss you off?"
It went on and on, but he hadn't pissed me off. Actually he had scared me.
A few hours before the onslaught of texts, he texted me, asking me to come over--that he just wanted me to hold him as he drifted off to sleep. I lied...sort of. I told him I was going to San Diego for the weekend. I didn't tell him that the San Diego trip was just for a few hours on Sunday; he didn't need to know that. He didn't need to know that that night I was hosting a small cocktail party for my sister and some of her designer friends who'd been dying to see the condo. He didn't need to know I needed, at that time, not to be with him.
But he had scared me; his texts that evening had gotten concerning: "I'm done. I'm just so tired. I'm done."
I was worried. I even called. His voice was weak and slow and breathy, as though he could get just enough air to pass his vocal cords to squeak out the answers to my questions.
"Yes, there's...still...a...lot...of...blood. Can...you...just...come...over?"
"No...I don't...want to...go to...the...hospital?"
"No...don't...call...911. My...friend...is coming...over. I'll...wait...till...he...gets here...to take me."
"Yes...I promise. I'll call...when...I get...to the...hospital."
I thought he may have been anemic and there wasn't much that I could do except make sure he went to the hospital.
Thursday night, he texted me that there was still a lot of blood. He had had some kind of surgery to treat his recently diagnosed rectal cancer. He wasn't very clear about the details, but he was sent home immediately after.
I felt so badly for him. It was hard to believe that at thirty-six he'd been through so much already--the seizures that had begun a year before. I think it was because of the stroke. His extremely high blood pressure popped a vessel in his head the year before, i.e. the stroke. And he had had the blood pressure problems ever since the hit and run which also caused so much musculoskeletal injury necessitating four back surgeries and two knee surgeries which also succeeded in ravaging any savings he had. Of course with the surgeries and the injuries, narcotic analgesics were required--strong ones--that any person regardless of strength of will would be hard pressed not to fall into addiction...and depression. And the depression caused him to drink, even now, despite the fact that he knew it was bad for him, not in a teetotalling bad for him kind of way, but in the sense that the alcohol makes seizures much easier to come on.
So there he was with his back pain and his cognitive deficit from the stroke and his struggle with addiciton and his depression and his seizures and his alcoholism and his rectum, bleeding from the day's surgery, and I couldn't go to his apartment to give him what comfort I could.
And the worst part of it? That he was a freaking genius. Seriously, a genius! He proved it to me on our first date. After a drink for me and a non-alcoholic beer for him, he asked me back to his apartment because he wanted to play something on the piano for me. We got to his apartment in which sat a beautiful grand piano, and as he closed his eyes and swayed his body enraptured by the music he was playing--Rachmaninoff, I think--I was mesmerized.
Even moreso after he played some of his own compositions...and sharing with me his acceptance into a prestigious music conservatory at the age of thirteen...and playing some of the symphony he was writing for a very well known philharmonic. Then he moved on to share some of his photography--amazing. I remember being in awe on that first date, in awe of this man's talent.
And yet...I broke up with him...on a text. And I swear I feel badly. And I swear I would love to help him. And I swear I wrestled with how to proceed with this relationship. But I knew it was too much for me. It was too much responsibility. Definitely too much responsibility
Definitely after having only had the one, single date, five days before the text.