We never talked about it, he and I.
The end. The final parting.
It didnít have anything to do with
fear. It was more of a dread. I
guessed it was for him, also.
But then, he went and did it. First.
I gazed at his emaciated face, pale
and gaunt against the whiteness of the
bedclothes. His sunken eyes no longer
recognized me. Bones protruded from
his cheeks like rocky crags. His lips
resembled the bluish-black of a night
sky. A hint of a smile lingered at the
corner of his mouth, as if to drive
home the fact that he went first:
there, I did it and we didnít even
finish our discussions.
He and I understood, even without the
use of words, that the inevitability
of either one of us going first was
certain. He and I had a mutual
understanding that when the time came,
there was going to be complete
acceptance. No regrets, no remorse.
Fear drove us not to talk about it,
the time when death was to separate us
from each other. Dread held our
tongues silenced. Talking about what
was beyond our time together became a
taboo. It became a painful subject ,
When I thought about it and opened the
discussion on the matter, my throat
tightened. I ended up in tears. He
hated my tears. He said my crying made
him feel like a weakling. Thus, we got
no farther than silent remorse. At
other times when I was able to hide my
tears, we fell into huge arguments:
life beyond was nothing but a complete
separation, a withdrawal from the
world as we knew it, heíd say. There
was nothing to look forward to. It was
a total break, an absolute and
unconditional split. It was like
cutting a stick in two, with both
sides utterly cut off from each
It all started when he got ill, very
ill. At the doctorís, I felt the heavy
thump against my breast, like the
ghostly ringing of a bell in the
thickness of a fog. Suddenly, I didnít
want to be there. My knees weakened
but I caught hold of the stair
bannister to stop me falling.
Nevertheless, I shook uncontrolably,
my stomach gurgled with a double dose
of nausea, I perspired profusely, and
somewhere in the cloud of my mind, I
heard the doctor confirm the
beginnings of Alzheimer for him. I bit
my lower lip to keep from screaming. I
dubbed at tears that misted my eyes. I
realized at that moment the enormous
task of caring for him, the agony of
watching him fade away. The sickness
in my stomach bubbled like a boiling
The silence between us grew more grim
as his illness progressed almost every
day. He growled at me when he lost his
reading glasses. His deafness bothered
him, that led him to lash out at me.
He no longer had control over his body
functions. I suggested diapers but he
made it an issue that gave him more
reason to fling abuse at me. He was
sarcastic and viciously angry on a
daily occurrence. The oral venom that
spouted out of his mouth was totally
out of character.
I nursed him at home in the early
months of his illness. I learned to
ignore his insults, reminding myself
constantly that the sickness made him
the way he was behaving. I cleaned up
after him when he spilled most of his
food on the floor. I bathed him daily.
I fed him his favorite burger, a
recipe which I concocted years ago. I
dressed him before we took our walks.
Through it all, I treated him with as
much kindness and love as my patience
I cried my tears to the wind as I held
on to the side of the slow-moving
boat. I dropped his favorite hat into
the choppy waters of the Pacific
Ocean. The sea swallowed his ashes
into the dark abyss of the cold water.
Heavy mists sprayed the bouquet of
roses that he loved dearly. They
scattered and floated away with the
tide, my heart among the fragrance. I
felt the warmth of a kiss, and
imagined it was him bidding me
goodbye. I noticed dark clouds that
gathered in the horizon, that kept
pace with the movement of the boat. In
a moment of despair and longing, I saw
him, his eyes smiling, his arms wide
open, calling me...
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