You don’t know. You weren’t inside it; you never saw it as it truly was.

How could you know?

You watched from the outside and saw only the sweet old man that you could scarcely understand, who laughed at your jokes and gave you your medicine; who replied in stilted English and never stopped smiling. You saw the laughter-lines but never imagined the holes around the eyes sinking deeper and deeper beneath diabetes-skin and the cancer in the system down below.

You couldn’t know. You could never know because you weren’t in it. You saw only the inseparable couple, but never the ways that they had nowhere else to go, and so you smiled and thought it cute: “they were so close!!!”

Isn’t it a shame?

You came for yourself, and she came for her, but neither of you took anything at all.

You don’t know.

You don’t know that this is how it really was: that he was a dear old man. Dear, dear in so many ways. And they were a dear, old comfortable couple, who took on their roles because they had to. He got quieter and quieter every time he came through the door because all of his words had been sucked out through his finger and she ran the show and ran his life and he just sat there. Sat there behind the counter in the corner store, smiling at passers-by and laughing at your jokes.

He wasn’t even a real person sometimes, just a shadow in the corner with the other cobwebs, a ghost still waiting to die and smiling.

When you aren’t in the world it can be beautiful, sometimes.

But you wouldn’t know.

You wouldn’t know that this is how it really is: that he didn’t deserve to die that way. Ambulances that didn’t come because no one called and blood in an old man’s vomit, collapsed on the sidewalk in the middle of the night beside his most useless son’s brand new car.

This is how it really was, when you say thank god he didn’t suffer without asking.

I bite my tongue.

You don’t want to know.