“Just hold that happy thought, Peter…”
I could barely hold back my tears as I cocked the hammer back on my gun. My son, Peter, sat in front of me. He was looking out at the ocean, watching the waves crash over the sand from the log he sat on. The sky was a beautiful mix of golds and peaches and oranges - a perfect sunset. A perfect memory.
He hummed to himself; some theme song from a show that he liked. He’d been watching a lot of shows lately. Ever since the diagnosis, I’d given him unfettered access to the television, even put one in his room when he couldn’t walk so easily anymore. The doctors had told me that would happen. They said that movement would become difficult and painful. And it did. Eventually I had to carry him to and from the bathroom and feed him in bed because any journey would bring him to tears.
He continued to hum as I brought the gun level with the back of his head. He’d always wanted to go to the beach, begging me every summer. But I’d never made it much of a priority, thinking we’d always have next year. But when the doctors told me how quickly he would deteriorate, I realized that I was out of time. There wasn’t going to be a next year, they said. So even though it was fall, I booked us a trip right away.
Hmmhmmhmm. Hmmhmmhmm. Hmmhmmhmm.
I began to apply pressure to the trigger, my finger unable to pull it in one swift motion.
I hesitated. “Yes Peter?”
“Thanks for taking me to the beach.”
Tears welled in the corner of my eyes. “No problem Kiddo.”
It became even harder to squeeze the trigger. Memories of our life before his illness raced through my mind. The gun shook in my hand as I began to lose my resolve.
“I love you, Daddy.”
The tears finally spilled out onto my cheeks, running down my face like salty rivers.
“I love you too, buddy. Just hold that happy thought, Peter…”
With that, I managed to apply the last of the pressure necessary to end his pain for good.