The Shortest Moment

 
Life is lived and lost in a moment of time.
Jack isn't exactly sure when it happened, probably somewhere between the obvious diagnosis and the honest realization that he had known from the beginning what the outcome would be. But it was in that time, of a life now measured in hours, where he finally understood what true fear was.
Daniel didn't look him in the eye, not once. Not in the whole trip back to the gate, keeping himself at arm's-length of them all, and not even when he could clearly see Jack through the observation window of the isolation ward. There was no contact for the greatest time, and Jack fleetingly wondered if Daniel was struggling, wavering between blame and acceptance, and the staggering reality that there would never be another tomorrow. For either of them.
When contact did come, it was a confusing mess of medical jargon that felt almost as though Daniel was reading straight from a textbook, and something else... something that bordered on controlled hysteria. The contact Jack sought, that should have grounded him in the moment, instead had him primed and ready to escape the room and seek out a more military solution. A life bounded by rules and regulations was ultimately more comforting than the cold enemy of emotion.
But Jack had stayed and listened, argued a little, and been utterly confounded by the apparent ease at which Daniel had disregarded his life by reducing it to a to-do list, to be taken care of once he had passed.
There is pain now. Jack's soul was being ripped apart in perfect time with the cadence of the heart monitor, layer by layer, piece by piece. But Daniel's pain was palpable and brutally honest; on display for everyone to see and no one to admire, because there came a time when pumping him full of drugs was more for the sake of those left to witness the end of his life, rather than any good they did for him.
A moment doesn't last very long. Once it's over it becomes a memory, and what we do with that memory often depends on whether we treasure or fear it. Jack doesn't fear the memory of Daniel, just his own ability to wake up every day and go on living without him.
The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen, nor touched, but are felt in the heart.  -Helen Keller

 

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