He had been very restless since afternoon, not letting me move out of his sight, even for a minute. He had been suffering for some time you see and now it looked like he couldn't take it anymore.Not even the thought of a tomorrow which meant more time for the kids or me. It simply didn’t matter to him anymore. He just wanted to sleep.

A painless sleep. A dreamless sleep. A contented sleep.

I sat opposite, watching him struggle, watching the evening shadows make patterns on the walls. I thought of stroking his forehead gently, lulling him to sleep. As I got up, I sat back again, remembering the yelling I got the previous day, for fussing over. He wasn’t a baby you see. The pain managed to bring out all his latent nastiness. He could now scar with words, while I didn't have the luxury of wincing even.

So I sat watching.Something was definitely wrong.He wasn’t breathing as regularly as it could be. His chest was heaving too. I could see the sweat beads on his forehead even in that darkness.

Panic-stricken, I called the household help, doctor and then the ambulance. In that order.They rushed him into the ICU, pumped in all the medicines that could be sent into his cancer-ravaged, bone-thin hands. The children were on their way after wrapping up their worlds. I tried to keep vigil, out in the visitors’ lounge. It was long night alright. And I dozed off, till someone shook me violently. I got up with a start, feeling utterly guilty.

It was the nurse on duty. She didn’t have to say anything. Her eyes said it all. We both ran inside, to his bed.All his systems were sinking by the second. I clutched his hands. His eyes opened for a second and locked into mine. His bony fingers held my fingers and then…He flatlined.

I watched the monitor wordlessly. My eyes were totally dry. Why wasn’t I crying? My aching breaking body gave out a sigh of relief. I realized I didn’t have to tend to him anymore. I could exhale. I could breathe. I could live

Oh, Lord! Why was I turning out to be this monster? I then understood, because I loved him so, his death shouldn’t be my sentence.  He was in a better place and I was too. It was time to let go. It was also the time to cherish and grieve too.

And I crumpled up and bawled away.

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