A new story.
Put the coffee on and your feet up.
My Son, My Son
A machine gave a sudden and unexpected burst of sound and she jumped in shock and terrible anticipation, but the noise stopped and no nurse or doctor rushed in response, so she assumed it wasn’t important.
But, her tired brain insisted, it is important, every line and every number on every monitor is important. This is my son lying here and he is dying.
She took his still hand, the one without the cannula and held it in a soft grip, her own hand shaking with fatigue. She’d not slept of what seemed like days and she’d been here ever since he went into surgery hours, hours ago. How long had he been in theatre? She didn’t know, time had become meaningless. At one point they had suggested she went home for a while, but she couldn’t leave him, not at a time like this.
She watched his face, hoping for some sign he was still there, still able to know her and remember what and who she was. As she held his hand and looked at the long fingers, so very like her own, she tried to remember every part of his life, as if by remembering she could hold it forever in amber. His birth over thirty years ago now, the pain and the fierce aching joy when they had laid him on her. She had counted his toes and those long fingers, loving every precious part of him. All she had wanted was to protect him and keep him safe, but now he was leaving her.
Many memories came flooding back, the little boy for whom walking was a whole new adventure, who came toddling towards her, arms out-stretched and laughing with delight; the little boy who learning to ride his first bike and shouting with pride when he climbed to the very top of the tall slide. The bigger boy who ran excitedly out onto the rugby pitch, who stepped confidently onto the stage and grinned at her from a dozen school photographs.
Then there was the young man in a cap and gown and the wonderful new job. Where had the years gone?
All the images wove themselves together and came back to this hospital bed and the unmoving form and the soft continuous buzz and blip of machines.
He was dying, her precious son was dying and all she could do was watch and wait.
A nurse came in, checked the machines, checked him and then asked if she needed anything. There was nothing, she couldn’t think of anything she could possibly need, but she automatically thanked the woman and never noticed when she went away.
Around her, behind the curtains ward life ran through its routine of checks and cleaning and medication and more checks, but she never noticed, her eyes and her mind were reserved for him, her precious son.
Her body must finally have betrayed her into sleep, because the pressure on her hand briefly confused her.
Their eyes met, one set dazed by drugs and pain, hers bright with tears.
“Is it over?” The voice was soft, barely a whisper.
The smile crept across the pale face, a deep joy lifting the corners of the mouth. Then there was a deep contented sigh and sleep returned.
She thought as she watched, my son is dead – Freddy is dead, slain by his own will, but Felicity is now alive, as she always should have been.
I had a son, she thought, and I loved him more than life itself. I had a son, but he is dead and now I have a daughter. She looked down at the girl lying in the bed for a long time; then she bent over and kissed her.
(c) Bev Allen 2016