“Don’t do this, Karen. You heard the doctor. No ‘last supper syndrome’. You’ll just have more weight to lose.” He watched as she pulled containers from the refrigerator: fried chicken, scalloped potatoes and ham, a pizza box, potato salad, puddings and, he thought ironically, Diet Coke. She plodded to the pantry and returned with a half-eaten cake.
“Henry, in one week I will have surgery that will leave me with a stomach the size of my thumb. I want to eat. I am going to eat.”
Henry knew better than to argue – his once beautiful bride would eat, he knew, until her stomach could hold no more, then within an hour she would eat again. All evening, until she fell asleep in her recliner – she could no longer sleep lying down even with the CPAP machine – she would eat. And eat.
He knew that tomorrow she would embark on the liquid pre-op diet for her bariatric surgery. Surgery that she had begged her doctor for, fought with her insurance carrier over, and argued with him about. Surgery they both prayed would save her life. But tonight – the last day for solid food before she began the seven day liquid diet mandated by the surgeon – she would eat. Henry grabbed up his keys and turned to leave.
“Where are you going?” she demanded.
“Out. I cannot watch you do this” he said. “I’ll catch a movie. Come with me” he pleaded.
“No, I’m staying. Just one more day, Henry. One more day”. She took a deep breath, put a container into the microwave, then leaned on the counter.
“Honey, please. Come with me” Henry begged, even though he knew her answer. It had been months since they had gone anywhere but the grocery store together. He could not watch her gluttony, not even one last day.
“No,” she turned her back to him as he tried to hug her.
“Go, then,” she said.
Karen ate a cold drumstick while reheating the remaining leftovers – picking the meat from the bone without even tasting it. Licking her fingers, she piled a tray with her bounty. She did not bother with a plate, she would eat straight from the containers. She lowered her considerable girth into the recliner that would be her resting spot for the evening.
For a second she felt guilt – guilt that she had caused Henry one more day of concern. She did not know how, or why, but his love remained strong. “Through thick and thin” he would say, squeezing her fleshy shoulders. She thought of herself on their wedding day – she was not thin by any means, but she was shapely and well proportioned. He had loved her body as much as she had hated it.
“Life is short – eat dessert first” she said raising a forkful of cake to the television, turned as always to the Food Network. She devoured the cake, washing it down with Diet Coke.
“Through thick and thin” she said, raising a chicken wing to the wedding photo on the bookshelf across the room.
“No Last Supper Syndrome” she intoned sternly…mimicking the voice of her bariatric surgeon. She stripped the meat from the bones with her teeth. Tossing the bones back into the container, she tore a bite from a piece of cold pizza and swallowed.
“No, no, no” she silently screamed as she felt the pizza lodge in her windpipe.
“Please, God, no” she prayed, clutching her pudgy neck with both hands, struggling in vain, unable to lift herself from the chair.
“Tomorrow I start my diet” she thought. “Tomorrow… my new life…Henry…tomorrow”.