He said it was time. They placed him in my arms, not yet even 2 lbs, and pulled the tubes out from his throat. The tubes that kept him breathing, tubes that had been our only hope. But it was time. I grew tired of watching him, tired of not sleeping, tired of the worry, tired of him coming so close to death. His eyes opened as they removed the plastic tubes. This would be the second time I ever saw his eyes. So blue, like mine, almost black in their intensity. No one would have faulted me for crying, but I didn't. I marveled in his eyes for that second. They were mine, they were saying goodbye.
I rocked him like a good mother would, when a child is hurt. I touched the tip of his nose with a gentle finger. I kissed his forehead and whispered his name, Getty. His last breath was taken while cuddled close to my chest, where he could hear my heart beat once more. It's the sound he heard when he began, and the sound he heard when he ended. My son died, and I waited to weep.
His Wake began that night. Sundays in Kansas had no outside the pub liqueur sales. But pubs heard of my lost, and donated bottles for the Wake. Friends came to laugh and cry with me. I sat, lost in bottle and thought. Was it better that I had few memories when death came, or was it better to have a lifetime of memories?
The answer to this question is now staring me in the face, 11 years after I asked it. But the answer is not clear. Maybe it is the difference in the relations that is the problem.
I held his hand tonight. He knew I was there. He became more restless, and responded with groans and squeezing my hand. My son use to get restless when I was in the room. He can no longer pet my head and give me 7up and Reese's pieces when I have a migraine. He can no longer call me Honey Baby Sweets like he has always done. He can not talk to me about novels and tell me dirty jokes.
I am not Waking the living. But I am mourning what I have already lost. This time I do have 29 years of memories. Some wonderful, some not so much. But memories there are.
Is it better? No, it hurts just the same.
My father will soon be able to meet his first grandson, for the first time. And that gives me comfort.