“It would be perverse to say that one thing you should really experience in life is to be with someone when they die. And yet what happened next is as profound as anything I have known.
For the next four hours, his mum and I sat by Lawrence’s bed. Sometimes together, sometimes alone. We talked a little to each other, and to him. This was no time for inhibition. Hearing stays until almost the end. Who knows whether we made any sense to his addled mind. It didn’t matter. Love did.
It was sultry to the point of stifling. Even when we sat in silence, the noise was constant. A fan whirred in vain. The window was wide open, letting in the muggy hum of London. And all the while his rasping breath reminded us that he was still there.
Despite what the nurse had said, we wondered if we should have him moved to hospital? For all that he’d come to die at home, wouldn’t he be more comfortable there? We called the hospital. They agreed to send an ambulance. But it never arrived. Later I wondered if we’d imagined phoning.
As the evening wore on, his breathing started to slow and became harder to hear. Several times we wondered if the moment had come. But when it did, we both knew. We turned to each other. I switched the fan off and his mum held a feather to Lawrence’s lips. It didn’t stir. ‘He’s gone, Chris’ she said.
I was 34 and I had not known love like his before. But she had brought him into the world and he was just 37. There was nothing left to say.” — by Chris Creegan
Chris Creegan with Lawrence Buckley (August 24, 1957 – July 10, 1995 ) — Christmas Day 1993.
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