Ryan

When you have had a loved one suffer for a prolonged period from an illness, and then had to watch him die, the pain usually does not come until later. That is because at the outset of his death, you can still recall the agony in his eyes, and how he could do nothing save breathe – and sometimes even the breathing got frighteningly difficult. All the things he wanted to do he could not, and so little did he smile. For so long did you watch him in this debilitated state that you wished on many occasions at his bedside for him to sooner go. And finally when it was granted, and he went quietly into the night without anyone’s knowing, you felt a mix of grief and relief. At the funeral, you cried, of course. But otherwise, you kept reminding yourself that his death was a good thing, since his suffering was now no more; you tell yourself further that it was natural for a child like him, with his disabilities and deficiencies, to expire earlier, much earlier; and that it was merely nature taking course – and how could anyone get angry at nature taking its course; as if to rebel against the human mortality! So it was that you calmed your sorrow and appeased your sobs, and went back to distracting yourself with the endeavours of the living. But the days go by and his absence becomes more and more felt. It is hardly believable to you that he is gone forever; that you shall never again see him or hear him or be able to touch him; he survives only in the pictures and the memory, which to say cruelly little. You begin to forget about the suffering in his eyes; all you want is to see him one more time, breathing, alive, being himself, inimitable Ryan that no amount of memory can amount to. But there is nothing, not a single trace; for life departs whole. So sometimes, in your purblind desperation, you imagine, just for a moment, that he is at some place else, maybe at his school, and if only you went there, you would find him sitting in his class, playing with his friends, and then upon seeing you, greeting you with his cheery excitement – all as is perfectly preserved in your memory.

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On speaking of death

It is best to not speak of death in so frivolous a manner; for if you do, and death by bad luck comes upon someone you love, or even yourself, then you will come to bear a crushing regret. You will be convinced that had you perhaps not chosen to smite death, that cunning creature, you or your loved one might have carried on living. On the contrary, if you do not smite death, tempt it, and still it comes, then you have only to concede it as a matter of pure misfortune. The judicious laws of nature have decreed it so. In such a way, there is far less room for regret.