More than anything, the eyes communicate the most. They accuse. They Trust. Their vision haunts you through the nightly dreams which edit the day’s errors.
The plea of the eyes, begging for a better day, direct the beatings of my heart like a remote control. Despite the technology that has brought me to this devastating conclusion, her eyes look at me with doubt. I am hoping, not accusingly. Trouble is, if you look long enough, eventually you can read anything into them. That is the challenge of silence.
How could we get to this point? He is my father, don’t you understand? He gave me life. I have never known the world without him.
Can’t you do something?
All the bright colored papers, the long white jacket of authority, the black stethoscope which is long enough to create distance but short enough to reach, the alarms which whistle on my electrocardiogram, none, but none, provide an answer.
The eyes stare.
Across the room I reach out of shame, out of desperation with my eyes which wander looking for an anchor. I avoid drowning.
My medicine fails me.
Here, death rules.
My eyes fail me too. I grasp deeper as my mind desperately seeks the years of physiology, anatomy, pharmacology for a single word of wisdom. Nothing.
Then, certainty. The pulse stops. A flat line. The nurse asks if I will “pronounce” him. Another asks if I will sign the death certificate. And the eyes accuse. The eyes beg for consoling.
I speak, but first I check myself as a pilot before takeoff. I was not the cause of his heart attack- check. I did not give him diabetes- check. I did not tell him to smoke all those years- check. I did not cause his brother’s heart attack at fifty two- check. I took care of him and did all my medicine taught me until this day of seventy four- check. Still feeling guilty. I did not take her father away- check.
I walk over to her. I hold her hands. I am sorry for your loss, I say. I know how hard it is. I know personally. I know through others. I know it is life altering. At this point, all I can offer is my prayers that you know God will be beside you and will help you mourn, will mourn with you. You will not be alone. In time his memory will be for blessing. This moment will not define his life, or yours.
In the end, it is not the our torments that make up our lives, but our response to them. How we remember our tortured moments moves the pen which writes the story of our lives.