Christine McFadden: choosing not to step into hell
Cavafy: In the Evening

Gore Vidal: Envying tears

[Howard Auster, Vidal's partner of 53 years, was dying. Leto, a male nurse, was helping to care for him.]

...Leto shouted, "Mr Auster has stopped breathing!" I ran upstairs. He was still in the armchair, facing the window....I sat in the chair opposite....Nothing stirred....The eyes were open and very clear. I'd forgotten what a beautiful gray they were-- illness and medicine had regularly glazed them over;  now they were bright and attentive and he was watching me, consciously, through long lashes. Lungs, heart may have stopped but the optic nerves were still sending messages to a brain which, those who should know tell us, does not immediately shut down. So we stared at each other at the end...."Can you hear me?" I asked him. "I know you can see me." Although there was no breath for speech, he now had a sort of wry wiseguy from the Bronx expression on his face which said clearly to me who knew all his expressions, "So this is the big fucking deal everyone goes on about." In my general state of confusion I was oddly comforted that in death he was in perfect easy character much as he would have been that evening if he had lived....

Jim Carney who works for us at times kept me company....Then Jim and I were left with Howard on the floor between us covered by a sheet, black socks on his feet. Leto wept. I envied him-- the WASP glacier had closed over my head.

       --Gore Vidal (1925-) in his memoir Point to Point Navigation (2006)



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