My favourite photo of us is over 30 years old. Something about this watercolour edit reminds me of timelessness – with colours, people, feelings blending into each other.
And in the end, we find there was, there is, always love.
For you, Papa, on what would have been your 77th birthday.
A bed on wheels is set up in the living room
because he hates hospitals, loves sports on television and there is nothing more we can do.
A saline drip trickles into his veins (Cancer must be thirsty work)
but I know he would much prefer a nice cold one.
An owl comes to visit in the middle of the night.
My father exhales three times as life leaves his body.
A sigh of exhaustion, I imagine,
from hosting the unwanted guest who stole his strength, his freedom, his laugh.
A sigh of sadness, I know,
for all that is left behind: conversations with grandchildren, my mother navigating life without him, an unopened single malt from overseas.
A sigh of relief, I hope,
for the end of holding on to a rope that frays a little more every day,
for the end of suffering, the end of sympathy.
We move the bed out of the living room, now The Room Where My Father Died.
At least he’s not in pain anymore, they say.
We nod with heavy hearts because it is selfish to say But we are.
©2019 Seetha Nambiar Dodd