The Hunt

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It had been two weeks since I had seen her. She was still bald, skin taught with no turgor, slightly jaundiced, swollen abdomen, tired and sunken eyes. It was only while waiting half an hour for her to move that I noticed the floor in the room was a red plaid and that the walls were dark wood, unlike the rest of the house. It was a peculiar room in a peculiar home. She was lying on the couch in what I discovered was the “hunting” room. 
She had called the nurse out for an emergency massage as this was, unfortunately, the only tender touch she had been receiving for weeks. Her body was shutting down. It seems quite natural that she would long to be held and nurtured. Her family was not participating in this kind of care. Possible confusion, fear, resentment, doubt, or insecurity…we often never know. In their stead we are capable, available, and we come to rub her aches and wield our compassion. She was awkwardly curled on her couch in an outdated coral colored jogging suit. In our silence my eyes fell on to the pattern and the players on the couch. Indeed this was a hunting room, with appropriate pictures and novelties spread throughout and she lay on fabric depicting an English hunt. I’m not sure if it was the couch’s age or a poor choice of red, but the jackets the men were wearing while astride their horses were the exact same color of coral covering her bony spine. She was completely outnumbered by the men carrying guns looking well rested and well fed. There were three groups of them and I counted 13 dogs ready and willing to aide their masters in the wicked race of death. 
As I finished her back she asked me to rub her feet and as I made my way to her ankles she stated without emotion, “I don’t want to die”. I looked at her grimaced face and could feel the wasted flesh under my hands begging for comfort and solace. “Tell me,” I softly asked, “is there something you fear about death?” 
“I just try not to think about it”. Deep breaths, then, back into the silence. 
I thought about her and her fight to survive. Her unwillingness to discuss what is inevitable for each of us. Her choice to scratch, and claw, to seek treatment that might hurt her. 
I thought of the hunt and of her frail, unprotected body, exposed even though she thought she was covered. The disciplined eyes of the marksmen never waivered from their mark. 
How ironic that her garb matched that of the man that would seal her fate. 
The “hunt” is irrelevant, we are all marked for death. She will fall to the dogs, or the guns, or to the cancer. 
She has chosen the silence and set herself up against the most natural part of life. Death will come for her, and while we wait, in this quite room we will be together, and I will witness the fall while loving her the only way she will allow. In my heart and through my touch I pray for her peace on this-the last hunt.

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