This is a fictional piece inspired by several recent discussions around palliative care, and what it means to have a “good death” (to use Dr. Atul Gawande’s words). It was originally submitted to the Scripps 100-word epic contest in April 2015 and received an honourable mention.
His room looks out onto the garden, facing his favourite oak tree.
Glad to finally be home. His other room had no such view.
Glistening frost covers parts of the branches.
Some wispy brown leaves coil through, not ready to fall.
His skin has become iridescent — paper-thin and shiny.
Willowy blue veins scarred from the IV drip.
Those leaves are the marcescent ones.
Dead to the common eye, they stubbornly remain.
Displaced only by new green buds.
No lines. No nurses. No doctors now.
An end to that.
Deep breaths forward into a new beginning.
It is time.