On life & euthanasia.
Words by Swaane Lauwaert & artwork by Swaane Lauwaert
I smoke a cigarette. Across the room, my brother is seated. His elbows are weighing heavy upon his knees. Steadily he lifts his head. Our gazes touch. It all happens in slow motion. Even the swirling of the cigarette smoke above my head.
Time is being distorted. In this place, it has its own pace. Even the noises we make are at half speed.
But when we walk into the room of my father, time speeds up. Faster and faster. My heart beats like a drum. I sweat, by only holding his hand.
My siblings and I, we chat and laugh. My father the hen surrounded by his nestlings. Powerless to speak but expressing love through his eyes. We understand one another without a spoken word.
I am frightened to make too much noise. I don’t want to scare death away. He has to pay us a visit. But we’ve never made acquaintance so I have no idea if he can stand laughter and love and happiness? What if he waits beyond the door till we shut up? Until we scream and cry? Until we find ourselves hysterical?
It flashes through my mind that in a few minutes time my life is about to change. Irrevocably. There’s a large branch about to cut off. What does a life without a father looks like? Will I cope? Me too, I am getting closer to my final destination.
While suffering and dying might take forever, death comes quickly and silently. Faster than lightning. Your mind is running behind. Like thunder.
I hold his foot, wrapped into a woolly sock. Tears are streaming down my face. I raise my head. Maybe he’s looking down from the ceiling and wonders why we’re all clinging to his body while he is free and happy up there. The white curtain is blowing in the breeze. My dad is leaving through the window. And so is my life as I knew it.
4 years later I still hear his voice mumbling: “It will never be the same, but that’s offering wings to our memories.”