“A sharp, almost sweet
smell began to rise from her open mouth.
He watched her chest go still.
With his thumb he closed her round brown eyes.”
– Donald Hall, “Her Long Illness.” Without.

Holbein the Younger, Hans. The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb. Basel, Switzerland. Kunstmuseum, 1522. Oil and tempera on limewood..jpg
Holbein the Younger, Hans. The Body of the Dead Christ in the Tomb. Basel, Switzerland. Kunstmuseum, 1522. Oil and tempera on limewood.

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Missing Malady

“He felt shame
to understand he would miss
the months of sickness and taking care.”
– Donald Hall, “Her Long Illness.” Without.

“In our first session, she asked me what it was like to live with Anne on a daily basis. I told her how I would watch Anne’s facial ticks because they sometimes indicated she was going into an episode. Joann responded, “You have certainly lost a job.” She was right. I had lost a job. And even though it was a job I would rather not have had, I missed it.” – Stanley Hauerwas, Hannah’s Child: A Theologian’s Memoir

Van Gogh, Vincent. Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Courtauld Institute of Art, 1889. Oil on canvas..jpg
Van Gogh, Vincent. Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear. Courtauld Institute of Art, 1889. Oil on canvas.

“When their minister,
Alice Ling, brought communion to the house
or the hospital bed,
or when they held hand as Alice prayed,
grace was evident
but not the comfort of mercy or reprieve.
The embodied figure
on the cross still twisted under the sun.”
– Donald Hall, “Her Long Illness.” Without.

Grünewald,  Matthias, and Niclaus of Haguenau. Isenheim Altarpiece. Colmar, France. Unterlinden Museum, 1516. Oil on wood panel..jpg
Grünewald, Matthias, and Niclaus Haguenauer. Isenheim Altarpiece. Colmar, France. Unterlinden Museum, 1516. Oil on wood panel.

“when I was seven and eight.
Unable to sleep
or unwilling, I would call
– waiting in the dark
to hear her footsteps –
. . . .
She nursed so well, I loved
being sick. Freud said
a man thrives his whole life
if he received as a child
“his mother’s entire devotion.”
– Donald Hall, “Song for Lucy.” Without

Barnet, Will. Midnight. 1985.
Barnet, Will. Midnight. 1985.

 

“Daybreak until nightfall,
he sat by his wife at the hospital
while chemotherapy dripped,
through the catheter into her heart.
He drank coffee and read
the Globe. He paced; he worked
on poems; he rubbed her back
and read aloud. Overcome with dread,
they wept and affirmed
their love for each other, witlessly,
over and over again.”
– Donald Hall, “Her Long Illness.” Without

Barnet, Will. Self-Portrait. 1981.
Barnet, Will. Self-Portrait. 1981.