Her eyes. That was all that was left of her at the end. Green, like the waters of the Gulf in late April. Alert. Present.
Up until the last few hours of her life, she was there. Unmistakably sharp and aware. But she was so weak it was all she could do to say even just a few words. I often found myself interpreting for her to her delight but not to her surprise. We had a sort of shorthand. You see, I'm the youngest of 5, Julie, my sister, being the oldest, and 4 boys. Al, the second youngest, is 4 and 1/2 years older than I am. So when he went off to college, I was, for all intents and purposes, an only child.
When I think about just how frustrating that must have been for her at the end, having so much to say, to ask, to want to share, and yet unable to to her own satisfaction, or to ours, I'm unmanned. When I think about the indignity, the humiliation of her circumstances that fate bestowed upon the most dignified person I've ever known, it takes every last bit of will power not to sob uncontrollably.
So I just go ahead and do anyway.
I told her it was okay to go, that everything would work out just fine, that I'd be just fine. But you know what? I'm not so sure I was being completely honest with her. All I seem to have these days is a deafening silence, and I've never felt more alone, more abandoned ever in my life.
Courtesy of a very dear Irish friend of mine named John: