Chapter 13

A signature

Illustration de Paloma Agüera

With the impatience of waiting for the elevator, I remembered again the words that had brought me here: “Come as soon as possible, we need to make an urgent decision”. I tapped the button several times, even though it had already been lit red for a while, until the doors opened, and I struggled with letting people out before coming in. In the room, 404, my father was coughing as if that was not the last thing he wanted to do in his life, resigned because pneumonia had chosen him as a dance partner again as it had done so many times in recent years. He had many machines hooked up, two more than usual, and ropes binding him to the bed through his feet and hands. He doesn’t hear me, I think, doesn’t speak, though he utters moaning sounds, and is unable to keep his gaze on any point. He tears off his oxygen tube, I don’t know if deliberately, also the one that feeds him, the one that gives him serum and medicine. A nurse touches my back sympathetically and points to the door where the doctor is waiting for me. She cleans my father and puts him back on IVs, PEG, survival. I step out into the corridor and notice how my father’s onomatopoeias do not disturb anyone. – Thank you for coming so quickly – says the doctor, shaking my hand. The corridor is long and, except for a blue line halfway up the wall, completely white on the floor and ceiling. Like this man’s gown, like the nurses’ gowns. There are a lot of people, but it’s just him and me. My father and I, I mean. The doctor is just a formality, the folder in his hands materializes it: mark with an X palliative care, sedation, morphine, the whole thing.

– He won’t feel a thing – he continues.

His life flashes in front of me, I see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s been a long time since I’ve remembered my healthy father; an inconsequential conversation in the car while driving, his mouth chewing a piece of meat during a meal on any given Monday, his smell of newspaper coming out of the bathroom, him as a person. His whole Universe in a narrow hospital corridor. Mental demagogy, guilt, memory doing its thing. I had this clear, now it is an eternal doubt concentrated in a few seconds.

I accept the privacy policy: a signature.

The doctor touches my back sympathetically. He turns around and enters another room with another patient who has a cold. I stand for a few minutes in the corridor with my eyes anchored to a world that has not stopped moving despite everything, despite this. And when I finally dare to leave, I do it without saying goodbye to my father, we executioners always cover our faces. 

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