CHAPTER ONE: London
‘Since before time, I have been free. Birth and Death are only doors through which we pass. Sacred thresholds on our journey.’ Tich Nhat Hahn
On a full-moon night I witnessed a death. Twilight had just given way, as if the hour herself supported this surrender. I entered Henry’s room to change the morphine drip; I knew his life was drawing to a close. Always pale, his skin had a translucent glow, as if reflecting the angels already near.
At his bedside four friends chanted quietly. Henry was a Buddhist and his community kept vigil by his side. Melissa was there too, sitting by his side as she had over the years, his long fingers entwined in hers. Henry’s persistent cough, five years earlier, had confirmed his diagnosis and revealed his preference for men. Their son was six years old. Yesterday Jack had sat on his mother’s lap staring at his dad – his thin face so like Henry’s, wet with lost tears. Now Jack was with his grandmother, who had once been Lady in Waiting to the Queen.