To what degree does a man change when faced with certain circumstances? When challenged, physically, he defends himself. When challenged, emotionally, he defends himself. How does he respond when faced with a psychological dilemma? You guessed it, he defends himself. Fight or flight is often stated as the natural response to such adversities and ordinarily I would agree. I do believe that it is more complicated than that. I watched Mr.Capro change over the course of several years or maybe he just decided to start defending himself.
Mr.Capro was the kind of guy who would open his home to a complete stranger, offer them food, a shower, fresh clothes if needed. He had had a good heart full of generosity and love. He was kind to most people. There was a deep love for his wife most people don’t experience these days. They would garden together, walk together, sit on the porch and wave to neighbors as they passed. Mrs. Capro was everything to her husband. The sun rose and set with her and it was obvious to anyone willing to look. All that change when Mrs. Capro died.
Mr.Capro spent the last days of his wife’s life in the hospital. Between the room, the chapel, and the cafeteria Mr.Capro made round after round. The nurses accused him of wearing a groove in the floor. He had taken a leave of absence from work so he could stay by her side. His entire stay with his wife lasted a total of five months. That’s all it took for the cancer to consume her life. She had been diagnosed on a Thursday, admitted immediately for surgery, she endured one round of chemo and one round of another more aggressive treatment. She died on a Monday. Mr. Capro never left the hospital the entire time.
After she passed, Mr. Capro asked if there was anything that could have been done differently or why it wasn’t caught at her new year check-up. He began to blame the hospital and its staff, threatening lawsuits and violence. The hospital staff just blew it off as grief and nothing more. Then he finally did file a suit. It cost Mr. Capro his savings and half of his retirement. There was nothing that the hospital could have done better.
Without his wife, Mr. Capro slide into a free fall of bad decisions. At first, he tried to keep up with the garden, but he had never been as good at it as his wife. A month had passed and the garden had returned to nothing more than a bare patch of earth. He tried returning to work only a few short weeks after he laid Mrs.Capro to rest. This proved ultimately to be his undoing. Walking through the halls one day he had been confronted by a couple of insensitive delinquents. They made wisecracks about him killing his wife. Mr.Capro was taken aback at first, he made to leave when they teased how it was a shame cause she had been hot, rage overwhelmed him. Mr. Capro’s lawyer managed to get the charges of assault dropped but the school board let him go anyway for fear there would be more of this behavior. He tried volunteering at a shelter. He tried going back to church. Without his wife, no job, and nothing to really look forward to Mr. Capro slipped further into anguish.
Eventually Mr. Capro began his journey into the land of self medication. His drug of choice, alcohol. This at least was a reprieve for him and for a couple hours a night the numbness eased his sorrow. Only this small window of time was pleasant for him, the time between buzzed and blackout drunk. It was this time when absolutely nothing mattered. It was during these periods of time when he picked up the hobby of social media stalking. To Mr. Capro’s credit, he managed to not become a full-blown alcoholic. It was the time before the buzz kicked in that were the hardest. A few times he had altercations with neighbors and neighborhood kids. Shouting matches mostly, although he did chase the kids and more than one parent off his property and down the road.
I always found it interesting to witness the moment when someone’s life ends. It rarely, if ever, happens at death. For some it happens months even years before. That precious spark of life that lights our eyes dims, is purposely, or systematically extinguished. Once that spark is gone it almost never comes back and that is when a person’s life ends. For Mr. Capro, his life ended the day he and his wife received the diagnosis.
Part two of a fictional short story by Corey Souliere