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the ecotone of six feet under
red and grey...
by watashi wa

Last night I watched an episode of Six Feet Under, Ecotone.

It went like this.

One of the main characters Nate Fisher is married to Brenda who is pregnant. He has been spending a lot of time with his stepfather's daughter, Maggie. Brenda feels he is seeking refuge in Maggie to escape the never ending arguments. Its obvious Nate suffers no guilt for he thinks he was only confiding in a friend when really it is only because he is attracted to Maggie.

In the previous episode, he sleeps with Maggie while Brenda is waiting for him at the church which Maggie introduced to him. After sex his arm goes numb and he goes into seizure. Maggie calls the ambulance. Brenda returns home after a long wait and wonders why Nate isn't home yet. She calls Maggie. Maggie fears answering the phone and called David to inform Brenda. At the hospital together with the rest of the family, they wait for Nate's operation to be over.

In Nate's coma, he dreams that he and Maggie express love for each other and he goes home asking Brenda for a divorce. In the dream, Brenda told Nate in the face to think about the kind of man he is by abandoning a pregnant wife for a woman he thinks he loves from a one time sex. Nate's answer is he and Brenda were never meant for each other from the start. At this scene, I feel my anger sets in. I cannot believe a man can be so heartless even in a coma.

When the operation is over, he wakes and in the next few days his family surrounds him with concern and love. Brenda expresses her forgiveness for the fact that he is alive is enough. But he surprises her by saying he's tired of fighting and thinks they should go separate ways. This was when I wished him dead. Truly dead. He may as well die if staying alive means his selfish pursuit only goes on to inflict pain upon others.

The scene then cuts to Nate going to sleep while David watches TV, a documentary of birds diving into the sea. The brothers share the same dream. Nate goes on a surfing trip with Nathaniel and David, getting stoned in the back of the Deadwagon. (David looks different. He's got long hair and a beard.) When they arrive at the ocean with birds flying above, Nate jumps in the water and encourages David to join him but he suddenly becomes nervous about sharks and warns him. Nate looking happy goes ahead anyway. The camera cuts back to where David is. He becomes his current self, in a suit, looking worried and nervous. When David awakens from the dream, he finds that Nate has died.

..I couldn't hold back my shock at the fulfillment of my desire. I do not know if this was the intention by the writer - for the viewer to wish someone dead and feel a tinge of regret for having such an evil thought when it really happens.

The shock brought me back to the bed where my aunt lied, to the time of suffering she went through. The cancer lived in her abdomen like an alien. Her body literally drowned in the internal rotting of her flesh and organs. In the 3 months of her stay at the hospital, my family and her siblings went in and out of the cold walls which saw our bodies felt the heat of the afternoon, the cold of the nights and repeated washings of our hands at the sinks to kill germs we brought in.

My aunt's mind went through a transition even while the cancer cells were changing her body. In a way, the disease was inhibiting her soul in ways onlookers will never understand until the day disease comes knocking. Her constant phone calls and demands for all sorts of cold drinks were relentless. She would make seven phone calls in an afternoon alone. In need of a break from that, a few of us chose not to pick up the call and bluffed our way through with excuses. We forgot how sensitive a patient can get. All too late. She thought we were trying to avoid her. It was our fault. Still the days went on as we continued to attend to her needs.

There was a night I spent in the ward. Drinks were fed every half an hour as I saw the liquids went down her throat, into her stomach and out again through the tube running out of her nose. Her thirst was unquenchable. I massaged her swollen legs every 20 minutes or so. It didn't matter the doctor said massages wouldn't help. I did as she requested. At times her temper flared due the discomfort and pain she was in. I saw myself sank into exhaustion and knew I did not love my aunt as much as my sisters and her siblings who were far more patient. I couldn't deny not wishing her go, to see her breathe the last. My heart would not let me think myself a saint and say that it was only so she may depart from the body that tortured her. It was my exhaustion that called for the desire.

I did not know what death was really like then, until the day I saw it happened. In the morning hours of a Sunday, we rushed to the hospital after receiving a call. My aunt was in coma. Sounds of sniffling and long pauses between her intakes of breath hung in the air. The seconds in these pauses were unbearable, almost eternal in my ears. Her chest raised in a struggling effort as her opened mouth consumed every bit of energy left to suck in oxygen. There was a while when her abdomen churned. It let out noises that sounded like between growls of hunger and water bubbles. Then after an hour, rusted blood seeped from her and the ward smelled of decomposed flesh. My uncles, aunties and sisters chatted about their childhood while we continue to listen to her breaths.

Finally her chest went still. Whatever there was left of red receded. Reflected on her was the greenish gray on David and Nathaniel's faces when they saw Nate swam into the sea.

The gray I recognized in Six Feet Under still lingers on my finger tips and lips, the chalky taste of it never leaving my tongue. My desire for that human being to die turns into guilt. The shock that came after death didn't cease to surprise me - that I was capable of yielding such a wish was unforgivable... for death never returns those who depart. And I continue to swim in the ecotone of red and gray.


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