You Were No Saint….

Caravaggio – The Incredulity of
Saint Thomas

…but you had your doubts.

2 Years. 24 Months. 730 Days. 17520 Hours. Or was it just a minute ago?

I remember that Saturday morning, like it was yesterday. You were laying on you right side, sleeping; you looked so peaceful… breathing in… and out, in… and out.

To any stranger waking by your hospital room, you looked like any other guy, having a Saturday morning “lie in.” …but I knew different. I knew you were making peace with your ghosts and demons and negotiating an exit strategy.

The negotiations didn’t take long. You knew what you wanted, you had known for days… weeks maybe. It was simply a mater of convincing the beasts, that it was okay for you to finally leave; that you had suffered enough.

I think 51 years, is more than enough penance, don’t you?

Daddy always said the reason he (and you) had such tough lives, is because you were both named Thomas (like our grandfather) and also like Saint Thomas {aka “Doubting Thomas”} you know… the one who questioned Christ’s resurrection! You too had your doubts; about life, love, God, death, forgiveness… but I’m thinking that whole being named “Thomas” thing, had nothing to do with anything.

No, I’m thinking that the 51 years of hell was… self inflicted. You, paying you back, for things that you had done, that you yourself deemed unforgettable, unimaginable, unforgivable…

You certainly cut yourself NO SLACK. It didn’t matter that it was wartime, that you were under orders, that you were doing what was expected of you. It didn’t matter that you were only an 18 year old kid, in a strange country, half way around the world. In retrospect, you never considered that it was them… or you. You just knew in the end, they were dead, and you weren’t, and you could never reconcile that fact.

I knew you’d be leaving me on that Saturday… it was just a matter of when.

After all, I had my hand in it as well, didn’t I? Not allowing them to put you in ICU. Not allowing them to put you on a respirator… “Comfort measures only,” I had said. Those are my ghosts; those are the demons that haunt me.

I was stroking your back; mindlessly watching my hand rise and fall with each breath you took. And as fate would have it, I got distracted by the nurse who was in the room. We were talking about something stupid and insignificant… when I realised my hand was no longer moving.

You had completed your negotiations and you were gone… just like that.

I was a brotherless sister.

The ward nurse came in… and she confirmed you were dead; which was pretty obvious, really. And then we all waited for ward doctor to come in and make it “official.”

It was all so surreal.

I remember helping the nurse wash you… I talked to you as I washed your face and combed your hair. All the hard lines and wrinkles that time and worry had carved into your face, were magically smoothed out; and you looked, do I dare say, peaceful and almost happy.

You had achieved your goal. Bravo! Good job you.

2 Years. 24 Months. 730 Days. 17520 Hours.

Or was it just a minute ago, I can’t decide.

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