The memory of Dad’s cancer breath – ragged and wavering – contrasts with the deep even breathing from the tiny lungs of the baby that sleeps upon my chest. That all that makes up a human can fit into the robust body of a two year old, save some wisdom, seems a ludicrous miracle. Sometimes the delicate little fingers and tiny strong calves, or the determined beating of his year seem so perfect that a part of me cries a bit for the sadness in the relentless growing, the way my son wants to become bigger, more independent, and how this will pull him away from me and into his own being, his own time. Yet that is all as it should be – must be.
But that tiny perfection haunts me, because it reminds me of the ruin of Dad’s body; cancer, cirrhosis, blocked arteries, strokes and gangrene. How the physical shell that carried his being began to decay in senescence, as though to warn us of the inevitable leaving. That vessel that was once as small, and strong, and perfect as that of this sleeping baby on my chest, left the world broken and weary, as the soul went… where? Onward.
And a tiny fragment broke free, like a shard of glass lodged in memory.