The silence of the unease waiting
Silence filled the room. It was a heavy, self deprecating, rumbling one. Running low as not to be perceived. Trying not to be seen, not caring if heard. Creeping through the walls, dry as an ancient oak. Wrapping itself into the bodies of the ones standing in the room. Merging with them as a second skin, as if it had been with them since the moment they came to the world and not only for the last heartbroken six months.
This silence, one that is not discerned if not lived first. Is one that the family had feared. And still they could not wrap their minds to the concept. Their hearts were trembling in unison with the second silence.
The silence of a heartbreak
It is the silence of a broken person desiring the death of their loved one. A heavy burden striking their soul with an incurable guilt. Knowing deep down there was not a way out if it was not through the grave as a cursed gift. Every passing second felt like a burning breath. Being conflicted on how to perceive it.
Should they be grateful that even through the pain their loved one was still alive? As pain meant they were still conscious enough to intertwine their hands. Gently kiss their wrinkled forehead and pray for a gentle goodbye.
Only if life could be sweet till the last flame…
Nonetheless, caring and loving can only drag a man so far until the fuel runs out. The flame burns leaving the shell of a broken man. A moment that trying to hold against nature would only be unfair. Unfair for the dying whose moment to come back home has been called. Unfair to the loving whose treasure memories with their loved are being tinted with weakness and pain. Leaving only aching that little by little consumes them, invading their minds and rotting their hearts.
Thence, before the rotten heart decays one must need to let go.
Even so, easier said than done when a piece of your heart is leaving too.
Those two silences were the ones that guided the doula to their own. As a tune that only the ones who had been in the limbo before could hear.
The EOLDs [End of life Doula] had arrived during the morning. Without notice, without subtlety. Knocking impatiently on their door early in the morning before the birds could even spread their wings in their nests. Interrupting their sacred space without care. In too much of a hurry to notice the semblance of the family that as feral cats were observing every step she took. Not yet fully accepting the passing of the father to welcome her properly.
A countenance that turned somber when she told them that the time has come yet there was enough to gather their thoughts and regain their composure to say their farewells. Therefore, they should be grateful for that opportunity that many could not even fathom.
Not the best choice of words if you ask me. A little bit more gentleness would have been appreciated. More preparation and love. Yet she was too focused on providing a calm departure. A moment to collect in the future with fondness. And there is too much a person can attend to. Therefore…how can we place any fault at her?
She had opened all the windows in the living room even though it was freezing outside as the winter had just started. It was the first white winter in a long time. The others before had been pernicious, bringing with them drought, desolation, wrath and frustration. Instead, this one seemed to desire to carry to spring their sorrows. Coming through as an icy serenade, a gentle lullaby, swaying them into a well deserved rest. A gentle winter trying to bring a little bit of peace as a remeniece of the ones of our childhood.
With it the third silence came in the form of a wind.
The silence of reluctancy
The wind was grazing the ground, dragging the furries of fine snow into the lonely living room. As if trying, in a futile attempt, to lay over the pain that rampaged through the lounge. Though the air bares only the coldness of a long overdue white snow. Therefore, it was the frigid freezing snowy white settling in an already devoid of living environment. Even though, there were still beating hearts pounding against the imprisonment of the human bodies.
The last living members of the clan were gathered by the bed where the grandfather laid. They had to carry him to the living room per orders of the doula. Orders that were met with grumbles and refusal. The patriarch was already physically frail . What good could possibly be done to move him around?
But I knew we would be able to tend him all together in his small antique office which had been his place of rest for the last months. Thus I sneakily nodded to the doula in gratefulness even though she could not see me.
Hence, there were all of us. Too few to be called a crowd, too many to carry the burden alone. Surrounding the person who crafted the first brick and laid the foundations for the family. All the descendants stood in a perfect circle around him. They knew the procedures, the exact posture to adapt and how to give him their regards. Yet, nobody could move a single muscle.
And the silence fell
A unique, man made silence conquered the room.
The silence of the doom
One which couldn't help but bow to the family patriarch without feeling its heart fall with him. Such was the respect that flooded through the descendants. Everyone was carrying deep inside a part of the story of that great man.
The first son, a veteran of war, who carried marks of swords in his body couldn’t utter a single word. That man who was buried under fluffy pillows and cozy blankets was the one to put order in his world.
He had found him under the ruins of his first house after crossing collapsed beams and crawling across damp floors to avoid the scorching smoke. Nobody else had volunteered to rescue him, not even after shouting on top of his lungs while hugging his already deceased mother. They left him to die as the odds of survival were against him. By trying two lives could be lost. Therefore, they left him…except the foreign man who was aiding the rescue party. That man was his future father. A father who had grabbed him roughly, pulling into the light of the fire.
He didn’t ask him questions when he dragged him the way back. Nor when he witnessed his mother's body being eaten by the flames. Nor when that man hugged him even though he was covered with filth, ulcers and grime. It was a hug so tight he thought that his breath would be lost in the wind that was blowing around them fuelling the fire. A merciless gale that dragged the ashes of his deceased family into the unknown. And he thought, as he was being held by that unknown man, that if it weren’t for him, he would love to join them in their despair.
Nonetheless, he never had the opportunity to even contemplate that feeling as that man, a man with furrows on his face and calluses on his hands; ended being a kind soul who gave him a name, a home and a place to rest even when he spread his wings.
Markus Solace, that was his given name of a new life far away from the bombs, the fire and destruction. The oldest of “The Resilience” as they would call themselves. Four siblings in total, each one with a unique charm and personality. Two of them gone too early.
He had 45 blissful years with his found father, and now, seeing him as a shell of his former self was heartbreaking. There was no longer to be found. All those wars, all those horrors crumbled into nothingness as the thought of losing his childhood hero.
A hero covered in blood stains and mud who lit his life was the story that he stored next to his heart.
Soft muffled cries were heard when the hero dropped his head. Still breathing. Still here.
“Not for longer” thought Kara as tears welled up in her eyes holding a precious story in them. A story of how she regained the will to dream.
She had been a troubled child left to rot in foster care. Moving from home to home as an unwanted luggage carrying with her a little bit more of a burden each time they give her the news of departure. Not being able to wish for anything as hope would only end up in broken promises. She saw her fellow peers that even at the young age of five would sneak alcohol and hard drugs in an attempt to escape this inferno. Some of them at will, others due to their mother not caring of the life they were brewing inside of them.
Survival was their only thought reigning their minds. In the same way they wound up being pregnant they made their wages met at the end of month. Women whose education, resources and the freedom to escape were denied from the beginning could not do so much to change their fates in their loneliness. Therefore they succumbed to the tempting elixirs that their male companions offered them. Addicted to them they would ingest them every night as they would give them the ability to escape to their minds avoiding the rest. Letting their body be possessed without resistance.
A fate that many of those would follow without being offered an alternative. A fate that Kara apprehensively thought would be hers to endure. No family to protect her, a failed system who treated as disposable and heavy baggage that every day threatened to drown her in despair. The older girls had given her well meaning advice on how she should cope with those future encounters. An advice she was terrified to be forced to apply.
While sharing with her their coping mechanism they have warned her that the first time she took the elixir it would burn in her thought indicating the new era of her life. She should force her body not to reject it even if the pain was unmeasurable. As by doing so there would be no second chance and the night would be dressed into nightmares and gloom. If she could persevere she would then be carried by the depths of her mind in which she would dance and dream in a safe soft cage. Where she would be a graceful ballerina dancing through her anguish evading reality.
She was only fifteen when that counsel came to her life and let its scent into her skin and deep down into her soul. Daylight became her night and the night her torment. Even if the memories slipped through the bites, the marks and hickeys were adamant to stay. She would try to scrub it off, rubbing so strongly her skin would come off and blood would appear and still there they were. Proudly driving her into madness. Till she reached a breaking point and the lights were turned off.
Kate could feel her body moving on its own accord, she could perceive that her body was being stripped of her every night, how her food became solely elixir. Other than that her feelings, dreams and perception of time were muted as a heavy blanket was placed above them covering her from the exterior.
That's why she could not notice that there was a moment that the hands which used to wander through her skin had long been removed. That the elixir was no longer running through her and warm meals had appeared. That the family she used to hope had entered her life. But could not see as light had disappeared through her eyes leaving a shell of her behind.
Until someone decided that she had long been gone it was already time she began to live as her heart was still beating telling her she could not be retreated from her own life. And when she could finally see she was met with deep green eyes resembling a lush forest in which the birds could sing sweet melodies. Eyes that told her she could dance out of her mind and venture into spaces she could only dream of.
It had been long arduous years still she finally stepped into a grand scenery holding the hand of the one who showed her that dreams were meant to be.
A someone who was losing the bright of their eyes telling her his curtain was dropping signaling the end of his time. That no matter how much she clinged to his hand she could not lock his soul in a body who no longer could hold. And as he had freed her of her mind she should return by letting him free from his human cage.
A dreamer in green who shed light into a broken cage that was the story held in her eyes
Those were the stories of the one being left in life. Many others had already gone to the other side waiting to be reunited when the time needed to come.
The Doula softly tapped their shoulder indicating that the moment had arrived and the light from his father's eyes was leaving his body. He was templing in pain but she could not yet administer the morphine as the farewell had not been said.
Markus took his sister's hand in his and squeezed it three times: “I love you, you are not alone.” And gently guided them to their fathers bed where they said their farewells. Words so tender and full of love that they should not be stained by the gaze of our dear reader. So let's let them enjoy this last precious moment in complete privacy.
Once the kisses, caresses and hugs were shared the morphine was applied. Slowly taking effect, easing his pain. Even when he lost his consciousness he was never left alone. His caring kids stood with him as his hands became cold and his lips blue. Until he stopped being him as his soul left his body.
And the final silence of his living chapter began.
The silence of departure
What a beautiful caring soul he possessed. One full of green tints from a forest that never stopped growing, sheltering within itself its beloved children for whom he had given all he could and more; of red tints from a fire that never ceased to warm the lives of those he loved; of blue tints of an ocean of a life full of borrowed sorrows and kissed tears. A soul that I knew could not wait to meet their kids who were eagerly waiting to be reunited with him.
It was not mine to guide to the other side. Nor would he be left unattended as the souls of his kids had already entered through the windows that the doula had opened earlier. Souls who brighted as the sight of their brother and sister. Souls who kissed their hands and brushed their hair in tenderness. Telling them they would all be alright at the end and they could finally rest and care for themselves. They had done enough and more, it was their time to care for dad, for their hero and dreamer as they would protect their stories until they were reunited.
The moment the soul of their father left the hands of his beloved kids to be held by the souls of the others was the moment Átropo cut the thread as her job was done.
Notwithstanding, my fair share was not completed as when a soul leaves this realm another is welcome in it in a beautiful never ending cycle that not even me could understand thoroughly. And yet, I could only stand in awe every time I thread a new thread in the nut of destiny.
That family would soon welcome a new member, one who would come with cries, tantrums and sleepless nights but still, it would remind them of the beauty of life as darkness ceases when the light shines. And light can come in many forms even in the unknown.
With it I, Cloto, head out from this FWW. I hope our paths cross in other to be created stories. Farewell.