As I come into the hospital room, I see he's weeping. The panic of someone you love in pain, I drop my bag, coat still on, stifling heat unfelt. "What is it dad?
A whisper only, I can't hear and ask again, I need to know, and repeat, as he asked me when I was wee, "Where does it hurt?
The need to make it better now transferred, the full circle of family life.
"I can't hear you dad, are you in pain?
His answer calms me in my tracks, stops time, stops hospital clank, even the unbearable whiteness of the place softens in the truth of it.
"It's just me.
That moment. Holding his hand. Our warmth. My hand in his, another on his shoulder. Standing by him. Seeing the 'just me' of him. In this desert place of tubes and sockets and cold ingenuity. Seeing 'just me'.
We made it.
A week later. A green-eyed man, in my arms, freaking out at what his life is and has become, the trap he has built, the stone of it dropping in his heart.
I kiss his too cool forehead and stroke his hair. Calming him, soothing him and whisper, "The sky will not fall."
He says, "No, it's just me.
And I hold him tighter.
There is a journey, and we can choose to sit it out, but that hurdle, that truth and blinding honesty, that 'just me', is the ticket home.