I CAN’T STOP THE PAIN. HIS pain. All I can do is to try to make him laugh and tell him that he isn’t alone – all he has to do is think of me and he’ll have the strength he needs… that he can relax. He can let go…
Why doesn’t he let go?
Lying there, lying to himself; now straightened out flatwards and prone but his legs at separate crazy zigzag angles, and his body still contorted over onto his increasingly useless left arm. No longer on a drip, no longer with a piddlebag at the foot of the bed, he is drying and dying the hard way – the long way. Still being awkward. He grasps my mother’s hand and croaks at her. She understands.
My mother is allowed to give him the water today: he’s letting her. As she does so, her own confused state starts to slip silently from her shoulders – along with about twenty years of her age. She looks just like she did when she was 65. I never thought I would ever think of 65 as being sort of young, because when I was young, getting to 65 was pretty good and going beyond was just gravy. Now… ah, now…
Now, we live long.
Not like this I won’t.
Were he to be a beloved pet, cradled in my arms and the staff here saw him upon our arrival, they would gently examine him, look me in the eyes and I would be holding him and stoking him and loving him as we
and watch over him as he slips into sleep, then into the deeper waters beyond.
That is considered the kind, the humane, the right thing to do. Yet, for all our pustulant expostulating about the sanctity – the dignity – of Human life… my father’s life is now all here, just here and nowhere else.
Regarding my father here… For once, his eyes are expressive as his mouth moves almost uselessly. For the first time I see tiredness, fatigue and more than a little fear: so much fear of those deep waters, he decided to build himself a bloody boat.
Illogical, captain. Why should a priest, teaching about the wonders of the afterlife, be afraid of death?
Perhaps, my logical friend, it is not what is after death, but merely… death itself?
This is long life, made to seem longer by his suffering; but there is no prospering in it. Not for him, nor for us. Half of the family is in complete denial – either not quite fully engaging the situation for one reason or another, or looking at him, and because they have adapted on a day-by-day basis, not seeing the actual deterioration that I do.
My father: crying in public? Think on, people. He’s tired. He’ll soon be ready to go. He just has to make up his mind about leaving the boat and testing the water. The Deeper Water…
And if he and everyone else is right, he’ll find the water warm and welcoming.