February 29, night

He is calmly asleep and we are reading a book. In as far as we had hoped for recuperation, we have abandoned that hope by now. He refuses to eat and only rarely wants to drink. It is apparent he wants nothing more than to die. But we don’t know what is going on inside of him. We interrogate him sternly in search for words that can give us any meaning. But he is confused and tired, far away from us.

When we lift him into his chair, he stares vacantly and bewildered into space, with an open mouth and dangling head. He is a shade, a rest of the father we had. But that is precisely why, because it is the last opportunity, that I still want to ask him a lot of questions. Today he recognised and named people that he hasn’t seen in years. He responds more to certain voices than to ours, especially those of old acquaintances and authority figures. I don’t know what that is. We exchange suppositions about it that according to our mood imply accusations towards or excuses for him. Perhaps in his condition older memories come up quicker and we fall outside of his horizon. It is also possible that our presence and our names are too self-evident and because of that are left out. Then it would be our mistake to want to examine him. But it appears as though an emphatic and authoritative voice appeals to his politeness or his obedience. With the doctor he almost talked normally. ‘I’m a bit lazy,’ he said and I have to assume that within this statement lies some reflection about his state. When Janine, after a somewhat sternly formulated request from her side, gives him something to drink, he take more than usual and says ‘dank ouw’ (thank thou). That is a very old-fashioned and rather emphetical form of ‘dank oe’. He is living in a different time, we’re not there yet.

I’m writing a letter to Sjaak in America to report to him. When I ask father if I should send his regards, he clearly says ‘yes’. ‘Should I say anything else?’ ‘Not much.’ Does he mean that he’s ‘not much’ anymore or does he only want to convey that, where he is concerned, everything has already been said? I’m beginning to suspect that he means much less than we are inclined to think and than what we have a need of. Words that cannot be illustrated and explained also have nothing to mean. We can mull it over and think about it endlessly, but in communication with the one speaking them they have no function anymore.


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