The expression on his face didn’t convey much. I knew he was tired of talking and more exhausted from living. My father, limp from the chemotherapy and radiation, laid on his hospital bed in the middle of my childhood room. At this point, his oncologist wanted to put a period on what he could do. In a quiet voice, he told us that measures needed to be taken to make his remaining days comfortable. As he said this, I wondered how we could give him comfort. His remaining lung provided a refuge for the cancer. The silver oxygen tank and the cannula were his only salve. The whoosh-whoosh sound provided a greeting to all that entered.

In the final weeks, my father spoke very little. The words were labored and scattered. It was sharp contrast from the way he lived before his life was interrupted by cancer. He loved to talk. Sometimes too much. Our household joked that he was the “professor” because at any givien opportunity he would burst out in a lecture. He enjoyed sharing his opinions about politics, economy and current events. Even if they were sometimes crazy. Like most of us, he wanted to be heard.

His friend of forty two years offered solace to him. On one Monday afternoon, I witnessed these two friends sitting together. He sat with him and held his hand. They had both immigrated to the United States with very little in their pocket leaving their respective wives behind in India. They shared an apartment together and secured jobs at local restaurant for a paycheck. After that initial job, both of them experienced some of the same joys and sadnesses. Birth of children. Change in jobs. Watching their children walk, grow, and graduate. Witnessing marriage of their children. And then experiencing their children have children. They both lost their parents and siblings. And now one was departing to a new plane, while the other just watched.

As they sat together,he held his hand. My father’s eyes opened up. He smiled.

No words were uttered between these two long-time friends.

The silence was enough.


This piece is part of Momalom’s Five for Five Series. This is my response to the prompt words.