Alan is dying tonight. As I write. Perhaps it’s happened. We were told this evening. Text message. The modern way. We knew he was very ill, but now here it is.
He and I are not close. I can say that I think he’s a good person, devoted father, hard worker.
You know it’s going to happen to everyone but when it happens close to home it’s a shock. A mystery. Everything else, everyone else, carries on; children go to ballet lessons, people cook dinner, people eat dinner, people sing, people fight; but Alan is dying tonight; a momentous thing is happening to an ordinary man.
In the hot humid night, we walk, the dog and I, down oblivious streets. A possum lies dead on the footpath. Near home, we pass the church, silent, looming in the dark. Once, people would have found solace there at a time of loss; no doubt some do still; but tonight it is an empty testament to the futile, enormous truth – “we simply do not know”.
He has children and a wife. They are with him tonight. My thoughts are with him too; now; (I did not think to make an effort when it might have mattered to him). But tonight he makes his journey; mine can wait for now.
The clouds are heavy, shroud-like. The massive gum tree on Williams Road spreads like a basilica in the street light; its lemon incense cuts the air. The cicadas thrum – their monotonous dies irae in the dark heralds the great change. All else is quiet, expectant.
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