Sunday, December 03, 2006
In memory of G., even though it didn’t happen this way.
In the last hour, there was silence. Nothing else would have been fitting. How else do you attend the death of a child? As life slips away breath by etiolated breath, all you can do is listen and watch.
I will always remember the sounds of that sickroom. How we all waited for that last intake of breath, the final sigh. Each small sound, of clothes against a chair, of a fingernail furtively gnawed, seemed disrespectful. A watch ticked quietly, ordinarily not to be heard over the daily bustle. Perhaps all other senses fled and hearing sharpened because only ears were needed to confirm the end.
Someone’s lips moved, as if in prayer. Can prayer console in such circumstances? I closed my eyes and tried to envision an angel, hand outstretched to bear him to a better place but faith failed me. To believe in angels would be to believe in the justice and rightness of the moment. I could not acknowledge a divine and merciful power that had allowed this grim reaping of joy, youth and beauty.
Death entered the room and left again before I knew he was there. Realization only dawned as I watched the nurse uncoil her stethoscope, place it on the frail chest and record a time.