A Leaf Falls
The whirs and beeps of life-sustaining machines no longer intrude on my consciousness; they have become as natural as my breath. Nurses rustling past my door are ghosts from a distant memory. Warmth arrives as my daughter gently tucks in my blanket, protecting me from an omnipresent flow of cool air. Sounds are distant, mostly irrelevant now.
At last my family recognizes and responds to infinitesimal signals – the upward curve of my mouth, a tiny wrinkle appearing in my forehead, an escaping sigh. A lifetime of hurt where words never sufficed has passed.
Harsh feelings and miscommunications were the patterns in the days when I longed to be understood. Now -- when I yearn to take my journey alone -- people focus on every gesture and sound, and hold me here.
I'm a dried leaf clinging to a dead branch, assaulted by a chilled wind. Release, I need release.
My parents and grandparents attend me without words. They know I will come to them when I can – when the living allow me to leave. Smiling, my ancestors wait for me in the blazing sunlit corner of the room. Untiring arms reach out, extending an invitation to join them.
The wind nudges me again. This time I open my hand and let go. I glide away from the tree as the wind lifts me up. We dance, the wind and I, for a precious moment. If I plummet to the ground and am no more, this brief instant of freedom is worth it all.
He sets me down gently beside family and friends. I am warm.