by Annette Schwindt
“By the way: thank you!”
He lovingly smiled at me with the one half of his face that he could still move.
“What for?”, I asked.
“You know”, he said, pointing at his throat and looking at mine.
I felt shivers down my spine… What he was looking at was the locket I was wearing on a necklace. The locket where his picture was in. But he couldn’t know about that. I had never told him and all this time I had been 1000 kilometers away from him.
Where he pointed at on his throat was a red scar between his clavicles. That was where they had made the tracheotomy to keep him alive.
“Actually, I wanted to stay there, you know?” he said and tried to sit up on the other side of the waist-high wall that surrounded the garden and that I was already sitting on. He didn’t want any help and when he finally made it he gave me his proud half smile.
“I knew if I come back then pain and fear will follow, all these things that didn’t exist anymore over there. Everything there was… just… fine.”
With a sigh he shrugged as if this description didn’t really satisfy him.
“Everything was so… calm… and beautiful and peaceful. Nothing negative anymore… Anything that causes you sorrow or worries here just doesn’t matter anymore over there.”
He shook his head “It’s not gone, no. But it just… doesn’t matter anymore.”
And after a short break he added: “The only thing that remains… the only thing that never ends… is love.”
“Everyone who is important to you and to whom you are important is connected to you in love”, he said. “No matter if it’s family or friends or a partner. No matter, this all is love. Only in different forms. And this love is like a band between you and these people. Sometimes it is large and strong, sometimes delicate. But it is always there. No matter where you are. No matter if here or over there…”
The wind came through the trees and caressed my skin.
“Somehow I was not afraid, you know? I was not alone. All those who had left before me were with me. My grandmother, even the dog I had had as a child was there and was happy to see me!”
He laughed and I could almost see the dog jumping joyfully up his master.
“That’s why I didn’t want to come back…”
Evening set over the garden we were sitting in. The summer air was warm and soft and I longed to just go to him and take him in my arms. But in some strange way we were already much closer than that.
“What got you back then?”, I asked him carefully.
Lost in thought he looked at the half dried grass under his seat on the gardenwall and smiled his half smile. Then he looked me in the eyes for a long time without saying anything.
Finally he said: “My time hadn’t come yet… still far from that, they’ve told me.”
“He doesn’t want to leave” his cousin had said when she had come back from his room in the trauma clinic. She was all happy and positive when she came back to the waiting room where the crying family had gathered to say goodbye to him one after the other before the machines that his life was depending on were to be stopped. And now this deaf girl came back from her turn and said they shouldn’t do that, that he would come back, that all he needed was a bit more time.
When she had gone to his room she had been filled with fear. “Say goodbye to him” they had signed to her. But how? Lost she remained beside the door that was closed from the outside and stared at her severely injured cousin of whom they had said he’d never wake up again.
Suddenly she felt someone behind her pushing her gently to the bed. Frightened she turned around but there was no-one. Still she felt this energy pushing her towards the bed. She gave in, sat down at his bed, took his hand and felt him asking her for help.
“You must not stop the machines” she forwarded his wish now. “He will come back!”
A few weeks later he opened his eyes indeed and smiled his first crooked smile. No way to talk or to stand up yet and it became a long fight before he could make himself understood or move around without help.
And now he was sitting in front of me and thanking ME?
I hadn’t realised I had taken the locket between my fingers again. Just as I had done during all these months in every moment that I had had one hand free. I had just held it and imagined I’d be with him, hold him and give him strength to wake up and cope with all that…
And just like then the locket had got all warm now. It almost glowed in my hand…
But he couldn’t know that!
“Love never ends”, he said again. “And if you love somebody and if you are loved, this person will always be with you. No matter what happens… For all eternity.”
Avec tout mon amour pour R.
qui a changé ma vie!
Bonn, June 6/7, 2009