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Image by Torsten Dederichs


(c) Linda Hutchison May 21, 2020

Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash

The calls came after 2:30pm; the ring of my phone echoing through the otherwise peaceful library. At the third call, I answered. It was your nursing home.
“It’s Jess here. About your dad.” She was warmly gentle.
“Sorry for not answering. I’m at work.” My mind was way ahead, my words sparse.
“He’s not responding to the antibiotics. You need to decide.” My thoughts slammed into an unwanted intersection. Do I hold onto you, hoping we get a few more months? Or do I just let you go?
“What do you think, Jess?”
“It will be kinder to him.”
You had trusted the doctors for so many years. I knew it was right.
“Can you put Mum on, please?”
“Hello…” She sounded frail.
“Mum, do you understand this is probably the end?”
Three years before we had stood in ICU singing quietly over you while, barely a surgical curtain away, a family said goodbye to their mother. I had prayed that God would take you swiftly, but He knew that there was joy left to share before you went. And Mum hadn’t been ready then.
“Yes, I know.”
“And we don’t want to shift him to hospital?”
“He’s happier in his room. He’s been through enough.”
“Okay. I’ll be there as soon as I can. Can you please put Jess back on?” I was less anxious now. A journey unknown lay ahead – terrible in so many senses of the word – but one we could face together. It was time.
“Jess, yes. Go ahead. Thank you so much.”
“We’ll make sure he is as comfortable as possible.” I knew this to be true.
“You guys are amazing. Thank you, thank you. I’ll be there soon.” I looked down at my now silent phone then up at my boss who was standing by.
“It’s Dad. I’m sorry.”
I scanned the quietly busy library, but she was too well acquainted with grief to hesitate.
“I’ll be fine. Now go.”
We hugged tearfully and I left in a daze.
Driving on autopilot to Queenscliff, I vaguely noticed sunshine. I stopped at the ferry office, my words sticking in my throat.
“Merry Christmas!” she said cheerfully, “One way?”
When the words came, they fell over themselves.
“Yes thanks – we don’t know if Dad will make it. I have to get there.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.” She handed me the ticket.
It was right being on the water while I wrestled with the thought of losing you. We’d spent many happy days with the wind and salt in our faces, sailing on the freedom of the waves. Then shock therapy reduced you to a fragile shell, and we had been protecting you ever since. Now it was time to release what was left into the breeze and let you be. I imagined you as an Albatross - alone on the open ocean – soaring free of the chemical lockdown that had dictated your life. You would be at peace.
I let you go.

Freedom: Work
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