As I felt my heart pound against my chest, I heard the pitter-patter of the water through the rain gutters. A distant bus hogged its way through a newspaper-filled street. A tear I had been holding back all morning trickled down my burning cheek as I quickly glanced out the window. Aware and subdued at my wife's wheezy breathing, I gazed at the top of the highest building in my view. There a tiny sparrow defiantly looked down on me, and then in a second it flew off in the gray sky. A tint of blue was evident beyond the sparrow's flight. I thought breifly of the times when I was a child and how the sparrow would fly then. Now it flew for different reasons. It darted for heaven and I grew jealous as I held back a whimpering sob. I knew she sputtered her last breath.
I became clumsy as I shuffled out the hospital. I had to get out of there! She had been dying for some time now, and I suppose it was for the best, I thoughtfully lied to myself. She had suffered a great deal, for nothing now it seemed....and death's time had finally come. It's peculiar, though, when someone close to you is dying and you have time to prepare for the inevitable.
"Six months", said one doctor. So you presume the time alloted is ample, but it isn't. Another doctor professed, rather ranted about the advancement of modern medicine. We both decided that she would take chemotherapy; but I think she made that choice for me. Let's face it--- death is for the living. Coping with the idea of death, one begins to say to themselves: "It's not finished, there always must be more time, no?" But you are merely projecting the idea that you are not dying, so how can it be possible this person is leaving? The chemo was wishful thinking at any rate. Soon her eyes sunk back into her head, her once tanned skin turned white with a yellow pastey looking colour. But it was her eyes I had trouble looking at. They manifested into gray tumour-like things, completely lifeless.
But there was a time when things were fine. Just five years ago we were alive and in love. Listening to Don McClean while touring the rugged coastline of Cape Breton was how we spent our summers. As I look back now I realize I should have noticed the sparrows. How close they came to our car as we ate sandwiches on the side of the road. I should have seen the signs. If I had know they were calling to us-- but how was I to know? People don't live their lives around the notion of death, neither do they find it an engaging topic to discuss. The funny thing is that death is everywhere, it never stops. Someone is dying at this moment! It's like those sparrows I've been speaking of; however, most of us never acknowledge them as we should. And time goes on and on.
It's almost ten years now, and as I sit in my one room apartment I try to recall if those images actually took place. It all seems to unreal to me now. As I quickly glance at my reflection on the window, I see my forty year old face-- a few wrinkles, a three day beard, and my eyes; they look like hers, as though I was staring at her ten years ago.
I ponder whether that is a sign or not. I even wonder if I would be that strong to deal with it now? I don't want to think much about it, though, as I smoke my last cigarette. Actually, I don't see much of anything while I get ready to go to the store to get more smokes. I don't hear the sparrows chirping or their wings fluttering in the distance. I don't see them approaching my window... maybe I don't want to see them.