Wednesday, January 25, 2006

When foresight and hindsight converge in the darkness and manifest as self doubt, I realize that predicting a bad outcome and thereby avoiding it does not always merit congratulations. So many reacted to the news assuming it was consolation that we prevented the greater disaster, but I have been too uneasy to accept this relief. The dread gathers a vocabulary now… selfishness, impatience, inconvenience. He got better care yes, but comfort is not just a matter of better hospitals, compassionate doctors, of local and attentive family members. Comfort also comes in familiarity - with things turning out the way you imagined. He pictured dying someday in his corner bedroom with mockingbirds chattering loudly from the bouganvilla and the next crop of oranges ripening out back. Morning sun slanting through the dust-laden windows to fall on his unwaking eyes. Did we drop him off miles from the destination when he could have walked, albeit more painfully, right around the corner to finish the race? From the dread a simple question forms: what if I walk into his room and he whispers “You made a mistake. I should have stayed here”?

The taxi drops me off in his driveway at 1:20AM. I tiptoe back to the room I slept in every night of my first 18 years. Lying in bed I listen to the familiar creaks and groans of the house. Everything echoes here - I can’t imagine how I could have cranked open windows and snuck out to TP friends’ houses without discovery. The steady ticking of the grandfather clock and exhaustion finally combine to bring sleep. In the morning, the chaos of a house turned out of its cupboards greets me along with family members eager to share news of plumbing worries and real estate agents. Soon though, it’s obvious that the noise of four of us chattering and sorting doesn’t quite fill the void. I may have lived here once, but this house had only two real residents, and now they both are gone, taking its soul and personality with them.

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