Unbearable Playfulness of Being.

While lying together in bed, I run my fingers through your grey hair and my thoughts meander over your love and playful lightness of being.

Gently massaging your body, I take care not to wake you. Fatigue and pain dog your last days. I want to soak up your suffering like a sea-sponge, eradicating every drop of misery and squeeze out its burden into the ocean, where outgoing tides drag illness far from our shore.

With an open palm, I move my hand over your shoulders and down your spine. You moan in the half light as dusk mutates into another long, lonely night. I press my cheek against yours, drawing in the sweet embrace of your scent, pressing my nose into your warm neck. We breathe each breath, sighing with love and the wistful promise of stolen years cut short.

I hold your hand in mine. Its warm weight so reassuring. Life still rises and falls, contained in your once powerful body. Painkillers leach into your blood, easing torment as you drift into a narcoleptic sleep. Memories fill my void.

Those wild summer days when your beach breath quickened, your body raced with excitement, always the winner with a ferocious drive to beat the pack. Kicking up sand, forcing every ounce from those legs, determined, and then collapsing with relief. Standing there, holding the trophy aloft, basking in the glory of being a champion, an insatiable runner, swimmer, and hunter, of all things. An inscrutable friend to all who crossed your tracks. In recent weeks, each gasp grated inside your throat, each lung-full escapes through strangled air. Another step closer to the end.

How can a love like this could wane, and yet here we are together, your last lung-full ruptures our unbreakable bond? I believed your incorruptible eyes gazing into mine, convincing me you would never leave.

A deep ache of impending loss shadows me around our house. I face this excruciating separation from the one I lean on, the one who shares my past and present, always uplifting, passionate and ever caring. If only I could strike a bargain with God to deduct four years of mine for four more years with you. Imagine the joy we could share with extra years in play, exchanging knowing looks, bursting with fun and laughter.

Your beating heart taps out a rhythm of contentment against my naked back during warm, dozing mornings. Your breath against my ear, the comfort of your body spooning mine. In coldness, in darkness, in sickness and sadness, you nurture and love me, forgive my endless transgressions, gifting me boundless love, without judgement. I will never forget.

Impossible. There are no choices when death comes to greet you. The end stalks us all. Unless you want to hoodwink yourself with imaginary lies of the non-existent?

Like a bright flame, you burned with passion and tenacity during a life hard won, now flickering towards the end, a prisoner stumbling towards the gallows.

Holding you, I gently cradle your beautiful face in both hands.

A deep sigh of release into the unbearable silence.

Life, cut short, my sweet Schnauzer before you really began.

PS:  I wrote this short story after the death of  our pet Schnauzer – anyone who has enjoyed sharing their life with a pet will appreciate my sense of loss. RIP dear friend.

Nicky Webber
copyright July 2021