It was hard letting go, but he thought, in the end, that the final
Decision should be hers; it was her life, after all, and she still had reason
Enough left to make the call. That night, he sat with her and explained the exact
Prognosis – how pervasive and inoperatively deep into the very substance
Of her being the cancer had spread, but that she could have months remaining,
If she wanted them; that they could make her comfortable, if she chose a longer-lasting

Goodbye. He suggested that perhaps she’d want to get things in order, form lasting
Memories with the younger grandchildren, who’d be seeing her for the final
Time only months after meeting her for the first. He had trouble remaining
Objective, though he tried; he knew, in his heart, that she had no real reason
To hang on any longer, save for his own fear of losing her. She was the real substance
Of his life, beyond even any of us, his children — oh, he loved us, but we knew exactly

Where we stood in his life – she would always be first, though he cared for us exactly
As well as he could. The night they had the talk, my mother asked him how lasting
He thought life should be; if we should exist beyond the natural, God-given subtance
Of our lives – because we were afraid, or because we hadn’t acheived our final
Purposes on this earth – or if there sometimes was a fair reason
To simply let go – to just allow the body to live out it’s own natural, remaining

Days in dignity and peace. I’m glad, she told him, that I’m not the one remaining;
I could never bear to watch you suffer, or to watch you waste away – that’s exactly
Why I want to go. You don’t want me to die, she says, and you have your reasons.
You know, she said, smiling, I do believe we may be one of the great lasting
Romances – one for the ages. She slipped into a coma that evening, and took her final
Breath just after midnight. I’d tell my father later, her last words were truly the substance

Of fairytales. My father, brought up when men were to be of a stronger substance,
Did not cry; but when we came to see her the next day, the man remaining
In my father’s place was noticibally weaker, as though her death was the final
Burden he could bear. He clapped me on the shoulder as usual, and took my hand, exactly
As I had taken his as a child, and we walked together into her room. My lasting
Memory of that day is of my father’s trembling hands, inconsolable beyond reason.

The funeral was lovely, or as lovely as such tragedy can be, within reason;
The pastor spoke of my mother as a woman of great compassion, of superior substance,
As someone whose life would linger among us, and who left a truly lasting
Impressions. My father stood afterwards at the church gates, the last one remaining
After the ceremony, after the mourners and the priest had said goodbye, exactly
Like a statue, like a photograph, like a corpse – something solemn and final.

The reason, my father used to say, that he chose my mother was that her beauty
And grace were the substance of fantasy. Outside the church, he and I are the last ones remaining
As the sun finally sets, the sky fading to the exact shade of my mother’s eyes.