Photography And Half-Thoughts By Mitchell Hegman

...because some of it is pretty and some of it is not.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Two Days in the Life


Uyen’s ability to urinate went first. Soon after, she found herself unable to walk. Very funny, that. She laughed, standing upright shakily in her walker, unable to command either foot to lift. I took to wheeling her around the house in her wheelchair while she clung to her own bag of urine—the two of us a timely Theodore Roethke piece banging against the walls. I flipped her from chair to bed, chair to chair, handed her bowls and plates and the TV remote. Once, I wheeled her outside to catch a few moments of warm sun. Flies landed on our arms and then quickly looped away drunk in the rush of heat.

Naturally, losing the ability to walk was not near enough indignation to be heaped on my sweet, sweet girl. Not enough to already be struggling with a severe bout of thrush in her mouth and not enough being unable to urinate. She really needed the severe bladder infection. Then, she needed blood to appear in her stools—blood as brilliant and shocking as a bag of new cranberries. And then, and then she took to vomiting.

Holy hell. Holy, holy, hell.

Back to the hospital. Chemical drips. Needles. Long foggy hours of sleep and half-awake dreams, clutching for cups and spoons on the wrong side of the bedside table. Darkened rooms and nurses so cheery I want to slug them in the guts. The hallways so bright I want to throw my jacket over my head.


Fresh out of a morphine fog, eating bright red cubes of Jell-O, and tilted up in her hospital bed, Uyen watches the Royal Wedding. Prince William is marrying What’s-Her-Face. I think What’s-Her-Face is a commoner. Tubes splay out from Uyen and connect to all manner of machines and her bag of piss hangs on the rail of the bed like a decorative plate commemorating something nice, say the arrival of spring or Elvis.

The wedding is the first worldly thing Uyen has been interested in for almost four days. What’s-Her-Face, in my estimation, is far too skinny and the women are all wearing hats that look similar to the armloads of junk I used to bike home with as a kid after a summer-day of rummaging through the feathers and fur pelts and bicycle parts at the landfill just outside of our little Montana town.

I don’t give a fuck about the landfill or the wedding. Everything is far more ridiculous today than ever. The red Jell-O keeps fighting against the spoon as Uyen tries to scoop cubes from the bowl. This does not frustrate Uyen at all. She slowly works the spoon until a cube jiggles into place. The other day, when she tried to walk and realized that she could not lift either foot, she laughed about that. Never frustration. Never anger. Two days later, when she tried to remain sitting upright and, instead, tipped over, she looked up at me and asked ever so sweetly, “Why can’t I sit up?”

“I don’t know, Honey,” I said. “I just don’t know.”

--Mitchell Hegman

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Into This Go Gently

Even as my wife is falling from the sky, her arms failing to catch the clouds as she drops through, she is smiling...that smile like the first scent of rain across an endless desert plain. When sleeping, she dreams of trout flickering rainbow under silver riffles. When awake she dreams merely of walking out the front door to wipe her hands against the warm sun.

--Mitchell Hegman

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


Essentially, the world is filled with two kinds of people...and I like both kinds.

--Mitchell Hegman

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Sunday Afternoon

I am looking out my bay window and watching wind run fingers through the tall prairie grass, the grass bleached blond by our long winter. Occasionally, a bluebird or raven shocks across the Elkhorn Mountain backdrop. Out back, the ice on the lake is receding and will likely vanish within a day or two. My wife of twenty-five years sleeps soundlessly in her reclining chair nearby.

I have never liked that chair. Something about the spare design of it. The skinny arms. Thinking about the chair, I turn back to look at it, at my wife sleeping there. She has never outgrown her pretty. Not her. She is stretched out under a burgundy blanket, save her face and a single hand lying atop the blanket. Two deep red tourmaline rings catch light on her fingers. My sister told her she needs to wear red. Red is for health. She started wearing the rings just two days ago.

That's the thing. Health. On the very first day of spring, the doctors told us a bad, bad thing. Uyen has incurable cancer. Weeks? Months? Uyen's time thinning like the spring ice. Unless the rings can save her. Maybe if I learn to like that goddamn chair. Or maybe if we don't stop talking once she wakes again.

I sit and wait for her to wake.

--Mitchell Hegman