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I don’t think your brother is long for this world . . .”
We were in Emergency at St. Mike’s; it was a serene night, few other patients, few people milling around, all the activity behind closed curtains. The ER doctor’s gentle, simple words: I don’t think your brother is long for this world. I remember, over and over, the sharp curve of Dave’s cheekbone against mine as I murmured into his ear, and the wetness of his cheek and the dryness of his hand in mine, and his mouth turning away from the oxygen mask until I asked that it be removed, his breathing harsh and gasping, then quieting, then separating, with pieces of silence between breaths, and his eyes still, pupils enlarged by morphine, my hand stroking his hair so recently cropped into a little boy haircut by Sara, his ridiculous neck pillow on the bones of his shoulders.
I want to understand that curious mix of sorrow and soaring that I felt in the hour, although it seemed much, much shorter, leading to Dave’s death. I was conscious of so many things: his breathing most of all, his physical aspect, the monitor, the tubes, the discreet intervention of a nurse then the doctor unhooking the paraphernalia, and then just the three of us: Sara’s bowed head, the Kleenex boxes, the mingling of tears that flowed unchecked down all our faces. The sound first of my voice and then of hers, a rush of the memories we knew would touch him most deeply, pouring from us both, like a litany, a jubilate.
. . . the Coppermine . . . the summer house . . . Antarctica . . .
Table of ContentsChapter 1: Bless This House
Chapter 2: Paddle to the Sea
Chapter 3: The Summerhouse Years
Chapter 4: Dave at Sea
Chapter 5: The Shadow-Stalker
Chapter 6: A Shadow in Shadowland