Music to my ears

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“She’s catatonic. We’re not quite sure why.” Disembodied words drift into my mind.

For those around me, I am to all intents and (medical) purposes locked into a vegetative state, brain-dead. Inside I live. And listen.

Music plays in the background. Someone has brought in my iPod and speakers, thinking to soothe me. But I listen for something – to something else – just beyond the music. I listen to the cue. Click.

“There’s no response. We’ve done so many tests. No response from her whatsoever. I’m so sorry, there’s nothing more that we can do. Perhaps we should consider switching…”

Eyes flicker behind shadows, belying the diagnoses of doctors. I am condemned by those who will soon know better.

“Should we consider moving her to another hospital? We can afford to pay. We have insurance that will cover it.”

My father’s strained words reach me. I hear him breathe heavily, trying to control himself, to hold back the tears.

“Well there is a place, I’m just not sure they’d take her. I’ll make a call and try. If you’d like to wait here, I won’t be long.”

Click. A door closes.

Again I hear the subliminal sound. Minutes pass as it bores its way into my brain until I hear the final note completing the sequence. The call to battle.

Click. A door opens.

“Yes, you’re in luck… they said they’d take……”

The words falter and stop.

In the room there is silence. The eerie silence you get when the monster within finally explodes out and kills.   The silence of shock and horror that is unable to utter a word or scream.

Who left the flowers?

headstone

It was some days after the funeral, when all the flowers had been gathered up and put on the compost heap that I noticed a new wreath had appeared with a card next to the simple grave marker. It said “with all my love”. I didn’t recognise the writing, but then it might have some florist’s careless scrawl, hastily done with the phone in one hand, scribbling a quick message to fulfil an order.

Still, I was intrigued. I had been to the graveyard every day and had seen nobody. Then again, I was too busy feeling sorry for myself, focusing only on my own grief. The truth was that I… the truth was that I was devastated by my own loss. I didn’t care about anyone else and how they might be feeling.

The flowers withered and died so I carefully tidied up the grave. The next day another fresh wreath appeared with the same cryptic message. Again, I had seen nobody approach. The funny thing was the flowers were some of my favourites, in the colours I love. Someone had impeccable taste.

I started appearing earlier and earlier to see if I could catch the mystery donor. I sat on the bench from dawn till dusk, in rain and shine but still didn’t find out who it was. The flowers were regularly replaced and the message never varied: a veritable lesson in constancy. I would have liked to meet the person who cared so much and yet, our paths never seemed to cross.

It was only after a year that I finally found out the truth. The gravestone was replaced on a cold, damp morning. I had forgotten that you have to leave the earth to settle before doing this. On this day a yearning had come over me, a yearning to be close so I hung around, hoping against hope that I would finally find out who was leaving the flowers.

Yes! Someone was coming along the path. A man who looked very familiar, very familiar indeed. He was carrying a wreath which he placed carefully on the grave, touching the headstone gently. He looked unbearably sad, then he spoke.

“Well darling, it’s a year to the day that I buried you. I brought the flowers like I said I would. You know, I miss you so much. Even though we spoke about this when you were in the hospice, I still can’t get over how hard each day has been. If only you were here, so I could hold you once more.”

I wanted to comfort this man and reached for him. Stretching my hands out, they passed right through him. I turned and looked at the headstone in a state of shock. There, in solid black letters was my name and the date of my death.

He shivered, wiping his eyes, turned and walked away. Now it was my turn to cry.