His dog, lost, whimpers from the back seat. The car shudders at this speed. Our son has called us to his bedside. All day we hurtle along the highway. I haven’t packed enough clothes.
Sometime in the afternoon, our daughter calls, and we break all the rules about speed, but we are still two hours out.
I weep at the policeman. He lets us off the speeding fine, but defects the car. He is kind, but what can he do? There are other people on this highway.
I take a wrong turn. I weep at the service centre man who fixes my phone to guide us through the city traffic to the hospital, where our son is going into surgery.
We run through a teeming autumn squall unprotected, pass the soggy dog to a friend whom we have never met, and rush in to weep on people who are also weeping.
Our daughter doesn’t expect him to wake. She has seen this before when her birth father died.
We wait, tight and frantic, we wait. Orderlies pass and the worried families of sick people, people in wheelchairs, and patients with their bums hanging out of their hospital gowns. All sorts of people, all ages, all races, all socioeconomic groups, all dealing with issues of life and death and love.
And then he is out of surgery.
And then he is awake.
And then they will let people see him, two at a time.
After his wife and child, we go in, his blood father and me: mothering one, stepmother, friend. We stroke his face. We hold his hands. We look into his blue eyes. He answers with an unflinching gaze, so kind, so open, so vast, and unafraid. For all my hope, I realise his are the eyes of a dying man. He looks deeply into us with a calm love.
His face is bristly under my touch. I kiss his forehead like I did when he was a child. We press our foreheads together and I say, ‘I love you’, and he says, ‘I love you’, and I say, ‘I know.’
above the frenetic city
an Easter moon
He got a week’s respite after that, during which he married his long time defacto wife, at dawn, under a tree in the backyard. His one year old son passed them the rings, his dog licked his useless hand during the vows, and screeching cockatoos had their say. The air was alive with love. And sorrow.
Now he is on a palliative drip for the pain. We wait.