They say he'll never wake up again. Do you hold on... or let him go?
My shoes squeaked as I walked across the pale linoleum floor of the hospital ward. I walked slowly, deliberately, with measured steps. I did not want to reach the end. I passed row after row of patients, all lying in comas on their respective beds. They were all human vegetables; unable to respond, unable to function without a machine. Brain dead.
They frightened me.
That was why I didn't want to reach the end. He lay at the end. I kept my head bowed, and my eyes on the floor. I didn't want to see them. I counted the lines on the floor as I walked. I counted the scuff marks, the dirt patches. I finally stopped in front of a hospital bed bearing the name 'Anthony Smith'. I lifted my gaze from the floor slowly. I was afraid of what I would see.
Tubes ran into almost every part of his body, doing for him what he himself was no longer able to do. But science had not yet advanced to a stage where it was possible to restart the brain. His skin had a yellow tinge to it. It was the colour of a dying man.
A dead man.
The doctor already standing there gave me a pitying look as he took his place next to the life support machine, towering over my diminutive eighteen year old frame. No longer a child, but barely an adult. It seemed only yesterday that he told me that Father was certainly never going to wake up again. Then again, it might have been. Time had long since ceased to mean anything to me. They were going to pull the plug. I swallowed hard before nodding my head shakily at the doctor. He gave me another look; sympathy. I nodded again, this time a slight firmer than before, and his finger flicked the switch. The power light blinked once, twice, before it shut down.
I watched as Father lay there. I watched as his chest twitched feebly a few times, each slower than the last, before stopping completely. And in that moment, I knew that he was dead. His body had followed the path of his mind; both no longer part of this world. Gone where I could not follow. The doctor rested his hand gently on my shoulder before moving off. It wasn't his grief. I took one last look before I bowed my head. I turned away and walked slowly back the way I came. It was over, finished.