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Symphony of Silence

I remember the curtains like a mantle enfolding us, protecting us from the darkness of the night. Only a dim light glowed in the room. The thrum of the oxygen machine—dedoov … dedoov … dedoov—made it hard to sit comfortably in my recliner. 

I watched his face, his hands, his upper body slowly going up and down in their own rhythm. I recalled how privileged I’d felt when his relatives asked me to watch over him in his last stage of life. 
I listened to his breath, grinding in and out. To the invisible sounds of the sheets when he moved. To the voice of his damp pillow, especially behind his neck. I listened to his hands and tried to understand his twiddling thumbs, his loosely folded fingers—what they were saying as they attempted to reach for the oxygen tube under his nose. I heard his eyes whisper when he opened them, and I tried to read their language. His mute tongue spoke clearly as I dabbed on moisturizing gel. 

I listened to the movements of his head as I softly sang some psalms, hearing each word that his lips noiselessly formed.

This symphony within the room silenced the noises in the hallway and drowned out the monotonous wheeze of the oxygen machine.

J.M. Monica van de Ridder
Grand Rapids, Michigan

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