I’ve thought long about writing this post. Long about whether, if I do, I should post it. I didn’t want to be the exhibitionist. Stepping out of my skin for voyeurs to see the layer of pain, pulsing, there, just below my ordinariness.
But I wanted so much to capture that night. Wanted so much to capture the aborted fullness of the moon in a black, black sky. So much to capture the stillness of the night. Such a stillness. Like death. Like her stillness as they wheeled her out of theatre, all tubes and wires, and into a unit where she would be attached to machines. A machine to breathe for her. Another to count her heartbeats.
I wanted to capture the crisp edge to the air that seeped inside of me. Through my skin. Through my pain. Through everything. How that cold went and curled up in my heart. How it went to sleep there, beneath my ribs, in my functioning heart, so different from hers, yet made, forged, from her blood. She gave me this.
I wanted to capture the jackal on the ridge outside of town. I didn’t see it, but my son did. My eighteen year old boy who wept in my arms when he realised there was nothing we, her family, could do to take away her pain.
I imagine it, the jackal, had glowing eyes. I didn’t want it to be an omen. I wanted to capture how, after that, I hoped we wouldn’t see an owl. And then I reminded myself how there are no ill omens in Islam.
I wanted to capture the warehouse, cavernous, like the dried out inside of a fading flower, the way we passed it. The way, at near midnight, I saw the silhouette of a man in the doorway. A black scratch against the pale yellow light.
I wanted to capture the marching lights. A straight line marching along beside us. Up hills and down them. Marching. Marching. To push away the dark. Yet the darkness, the cold, it was inside me. Where was the light marching against that?
And then there were prayers. So many, many prayers. From friends. From family. From strangers. There were hugs that smelled like life. Like human warmth. There. That was my line of lights, matching right inside of me. Through the darkness, through the cold. Marching. Marching. Into her room. Telling the doctors, today. Today you will take off that horrid tube down her throat. You will switch off that machine that breathes for her. Because she has us. All these lights. And we will help her breathe by herself.
Thank you. You know who you are...