Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A Good Death

The low hum of the fluorescent lights overhead buzzed like flies on a hot summer afternoon as the electricity surged.  The hiss of air slowly escaping from the breathing tube attached to the electronic pump droned on in endless monotony.  Footfalls of rubber soles on linoleum could be heard coming form the hallway a nurse walked quickly by.  As the final breath escaped, the silence of each individual in the room combined to a deafening chorus as the walls slowly closed in.  Hesitatingly each person made their way to the door and out into the stark cold hallway of the hospital.  An occasional deep sigh could be heard and silent tears were wiped away.

Family wanted him to come home with them.  They cajoled, almost pleading that he needed to be with others especially family right now.  Or was it that they did not want to be alone to face their own pain and the experience of a life slowly fading into the dark.  If they could spend their energies on helping and comforting him, maybe they would not have to face the ache and they might hurt just a little bit less.

But in the end, he knew with total certainty that this path, this new journey, started now and he best get on with it.  What lay before him would began with one small step away from every thing he had every known.  God and history never repeats and nothing could or would ever be the same.

Scarcely remembering the trip back to the house; he approached in the waning hours of late evening as darkness of the approaching night began to settle.  The house that they had called home was dark and silent, the key in the lock and the creak of the hinges as the door slowly opened screamed a defiant cry in the silence.  There was emptiness in the air that seemed to permeate and cover everything.  What was previously there was now gone, vanished from the space as the ocean tide recedes from the shore.  The tide would wash over the land once again and atoms of matter in a dance of electrical frenzy had already filled in the space in which her form had previously occupied.

He sat in silence as time slowly ticked past, the beating of his heart counting the memories, the realization that this is how it would forever be.  Evening became night and the darkness fell over everything and he felt the blackness like the weight of a heavy blanket.  There was no awareness of time as the pain was too raw, too real; the shock permeated to his core so that no tears came.  The confusion would not allow a coherent thought; dark that surrounded him taunted an emptiness and futility that he should embrace.

At long last without a thought he stood up and went room to room throughout the house in the dark gathering the multitude of small white votive candles that she had purchased saying you can never have enough candles.  Carrying the candles out into the night he slowly placed them around the yard where moments of joy and happiness had been shared.  As he did so memories emerged of family gatherings, barbecue's, games, quiet evenings watching the sunset, the hours of work to turn the space into their own little refuge against the world. 

As each candle was placed he would light the wick with a match and the smell of sulfur would waft slowly into the night air.  The flame of each match sprang to life and then gave its life to light the wick of the white candle which would burn on long after the matches’ light was extinguished.  With each candle that was lit the flames created shadows across the landscape, dancing through the limbs of the trees, bouncing off the flower petals and reflecting colors that were hidden by the dark.  Light blazed around him as he sat in silence and reflected on the journey they had shared and the twist in the road on which he now must wander. 

Each white votive candle burned bright, but each one was unique, no two flames the same, but each shared a link to the other, somehow connected.  The memories flowed as a river of water, slowing in pools to quietly reflect and at times crashing in like rapids strong and dangerous.  Time seemed to have no meaning and the candles light continued to burn.

A slow realization began to form that she still was and ever would be, she was now connected to more than we could ever hope to be while on this earth.  Her parting was not an end but a new beginning to explore and receive all that this earth could never offer.  The light of each candle held some of her beauty but they were only temporary reminders.  As the hours passed the candles burned slowly down each to an end in which each flame quietly died. 

As each candle’s light was extinguished the darkness began its ever present march forward to cover the land and his heart again.  But has he looked up into the heavens the candlelight had been replaced by a million twinkling stars in the sky.  Each star was a reminder of things past and they held each memory in their embrace.  She was now a light connected to all other lights, a joy in the arms of her Father and he realized the truth of a good death.  Facing the heavens lights tears streamed down his face as he silently cried in remembrance of the past and a hope of the future.

(The above is my first work of creative non-fiction, loosely based on a real life experience. ~©Maleko 2011)


Unknown said...

Love it! Sadly I know this story, she is missed but never forgotten. **Hugs**

Carri said...

Incredible Mark. You made me cry and feel every bit of pain you felt. Great job.

Joni said...

Mark, you are gifted and I hope to see more of your writing in the future. You have written a story that is filled with images that can be seen and felt. Your story tells the heartache of a great loss and also closes with the blessed HOPE. Thanks Mark! Joni

Maleko said...

Thank you all for your kind words and encouragement. They say to write what you know and feel. That's tehe easy part, sharing your heart that is scary. So far so good :)