The Maharishi stayed at the beach again last night. He busied himself making turkey pot pie for Sandy. His father slept peacefully. The morphine has been upped to 40mgs every hour on the hour and so now he is in what they call, not particularly euphemistically, terminal sedation. The nurses say it is a matter of hours. He is peaceful. This is what J says. The lines on his face have gone. His skin is waxy, the breathing is easier, slower. The house is quiet. And the cats, of course, know what's going on. Ginger is sleeping at the end of Big John's bed. She has made herself a little corner, out of his way, but close enough to him. Fred keeps watch upstairs.
The house is on two floors. Originally it was four apartments, the two largest at the front. Big John owned the whole building, but let out two apartments and kept a single for guests. Now the two front apartments have been linked by a staircase and they live in both as one unit. Both look out onto the Marina Peninsula beach, with Venice Beach slightly to the north of them. The beach is deserted in the winter. One or two people lay out, desperate for their December vitamin D, a few more come out with their dogs at sunset. It's incomprehensible for people living in cold climates. Why wouldn't you go to the beach all the time? "Why aren't you always brown?" my mother used to ask. Because we have our seasons too. It seems more appropriate, somehow, in summer to while away hours sprawling on the sand, swimming, reading, doing very little.
From upstairs in Big John's house, you can see everything -- the Palos Verdes Peninsula, the red and white towers of the South Bay power station, planes taking off over the ocean from LAX, Point Dume and Zuma to the north. And every night for the last few days the sunsets have been shocking -- passionate, loud, glorious -- as if painted by William Blake. The night before last, the mountains in Malibu turned black, the sky orange, and the Maharishi thought he was in Hawaii.
There are a few planes, a news helicopter, some boats, oil tankers far on the horizon, but mostly it's still and quiet and peaceful.
He's always slept in the back of the house. It's dark, only a few windows, despite the new skylight. The front of the house is light, with windows stretched around three walls, all looking out on the beach, and shutters too, which he opened and closed with military precision (and the hour did not change, even if the light did). It's here at the front of the house where he's laying. The hospital bed has taken the place of his old brown leather chair, but it's in the same position with the same view. His favorite place. He was curled up on his side facing the ocean when I left him last night, thin oxygen tube in his nose, thin white sheet covering him, mouth slightly open, breathing in and out. He's tiny now. It's not him anymore. I am reminded of this:
"You don't have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body."-- C.S. Lewis