4 years ago, I sat there next to the bed. Surrounded by family. We held hands as we watched and listened to the numbers slowly loose their tempo.
59, 56, 53, 47, 44, 38, 22 and then nothing
I never imagined it to be so quiet
It was done and there was no way back.
No way back to a time before the damage. An invisible parasite had chosen his heart as their home. Had nested and taken over.
(How many of us had found room in his heart and nested there? How many of us had caused some damage?)
I had spent 10 restless days and 10 sleepless nights suspended between hope and fear. Watching a future fragment, a pixel at a time, until the picture was so distorted it could not be mended.
I clung on to hope for as long as he clung on to life.
But hope was very sneaky. It stung. It bit and it cut me as it writhed and struggled to break free.
After a time I let go and it slipped away. And I could feel the cold. Like touching steel.
But the next day I would wake up, and it would be there, hovering just out of reach. Like a ghost. It had come back and I would stretch out my hands – and grip to it harder than ever. And the struggle would start again.
On the last day every cell in me felt hot. I felt like I was burning. The tension was a furnace that consumed everything.
The night before, I had cowered in the adjacent room as they shot 1000 volts through his chest – not able to watch, I shivered.
As if the bolts of lightening were reverberating in me from through the walls.
Nothing made sense anymore – I had lost the trail – all I could make out were the crumbs scattered around in random heaps – leading nowhere. The way home, totally obscured.
Things were said – that I didn’t hear – numbers bounced off me like a ricochet. My brain as if I had been given EST. White noise. A hissssss like a snake, coiling, coiling, subtly ever tighter.
I looked at His face contorted with tubes and instruments – wires plugged into him. A sort of hybrid – half man half machine – The sound of the ventilator.
The time came. Hope no longer fought with me but instead held my hand and whispered softly – And my heart, already broken, softened and let the cool breeze in.
The attending nurse had been waiting for many hours for me to make the call. It was up to me to say the words. The burden of being harbinger.
Knowing and not knowing. Knowing that the world would change forever and yet simultaneous also knowing that it had already. No man’s land. Between this world and the next.
I moved across the enemy line.
To let him go
To let him slip away;
To let in the cold.
Just as I had practiced for days with hope.
At 7:07pm the time was called. I kissed him goodnight. And cried. We held a vigil for an hour or so – or for however long we were allowed to.
(Before his bed would be handed to someone else to fight their own battle in the no man’s land)
Electricity was in the air – bouncing around – free to fly – excited. Are new ghosts always so excited?
Later I drank champagne – it seemed like the right thing to do. Food tasted like sand. Forks as heavy as hammers. Life felt very sleepy, but love felt so very angry.
And yet it went on.
Just the act of breathing – in and out – over and over.
There was no stopping it.
But it hurt so much.
18 days later I wore a black dress with lilies printed on it and was buying a pair of black shoes to match. The shop assistant asked if it was for a special occasion. I said nothing.