CW: Medical stuff.
Grief: a universal language, and yet when spoken, nobody speaks back. A silence that echoes, and who to hear if one is without faith? Aimless prayers and purple knees, the concrete floor is cold, the silence is colder. Nobody is listening, but I’m not ready to stand up just yet.
Odours of withering flowers circulate the air, the church smells of death. It’s musty, like black pepper, like days spent cooped up in a church before Christmas, rehearsing carols for the winter nativity. I don’t like being here any more than I did then; I don’t think you do either. I told them you wouldn’t have liked having the funeral in the church, that you would prefer it to be in our garden, surrounded by the roses you grew and the evergreen I’d hide behind waiting for you to find me. But your mum insisted – I see where you got your stubbornness from.
I’m trying to pray for you, though I’m sure it’s much too late. They left hours ago, followed behind the hearse and you, but I haven’t mustered the strength nor desire to leave just yet. To leave is to accept that you are gone, and you’re not, not really. You’re going to jump up on me, or burst from
behind the altar, and we will laugh, I will get mad at you, and then you will drive us home. I’m sure of it.
I think of what words were spoken of you today. You were a hit, did you know? I worry I didn’t tell you enough before, that you left this earth feeling as though it will still turn without you. It won’t, not mine, anyway. Time is stagnant, as though you broke the clock-hand, as though time never really
existed in the first place, and it doesn’t exist now.
Time used to run our day. I’d wake you up at seven to find you in spoiled sheets. I’d have twenty-three minutes to change you and hoist you into your chair before your first medication was due. Riluzole, plus 100 mils of water into your tube, then at eight, it was time for your feed. Pushing liquified foods down your tube with a syringe like I’m a child playing doctors, and you, my patient. By ten, you’d have choked on your saliva and by twelve, paramedics would have swarmed our front room. It got easier in some ways, the muscle memory helped, but watching you wither, watching you be made hostage in a body that is failing you, that never got easier.
But now, I feel grateful that our days are no longer counted by hospital visits and collapsed lungs. Grateful, that wherever you are now, you are free.
For the last time, I kneel. For the last time, I pray:
Who art in heaven.
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