Circles of Separation: Fellow Travellers

The worst person to escape is oneself.

Chapter 32: Untroubled

Even though Thomas and Kathleen had previously been boyfriend and girlfriend for two years and friends for decades, they had never been on a holiday together. When Kathleen had a holiday house in Waldmeer, being in her house was her holiday. Nor had they ever lived in the same house. Their holiday was quite a revelation. It had wonderful moments and difficult ones.

Thomas started out in an admirable frame of mind but, over their two weeks of travelling, he was very up and down. Sometimes, he was good. Sometimes, he was depressed, angry, in a daze, or, worst of all, needy. He had a large range of emotions. Thomas’s marriage of several decades had been based on superficial conversations. Conversations about things as important as one’s chaotic emotions come from trust and a proven record that the other person can handle it. The honest mirror of a connected partner is a valuable and powerful learning opportunity. Other than Kathleen, Thomas had never had that type of relationship with anyone. One gets away with a lot when one is in an unchallenging relationship or is too busy to invest in one at all. Mostly, one gets away from oneself.

Thomas’s best moments were when Kathleen was afraid. He would sense it and lift himself into a better state of mind; reassuring, kind, and confident. Thomas and Kathleen’s best holiday moments together were breakfasts. They would go for an early morning walk and then choose an inviting, underpopulated cafe. Having done a long walk, they were both starving which is perfect for breakfast. It was a luxury for Thomas to eat slowly in the morning and read the paper. They would quietly sit side-by-side, reading, and sharing their thoughts. They had always been able to have interesting conversations. The mind is where they met most easily and successfully. Perhaps, it is what one would call a meeting of the minds.

Kathleen’s most significant internal work was done without Thomas. She went for many long walks on her own and was not afraid to delve into the mysterious. In fact, after two weeks of soul searching, the mysterious seemed not so mysterious anymore. She felt at peace, loved, and sheltered from anything which could cause her harm. On the last day of the holiday, when travelling in the car, Kathleen’s phone beeped with a message.

“Who is that?” asked Thomas.

It was a message reminding Kathleen to confirm her upcoming appointment with the specialist. It said if she didn’t confirm in the next twenty-four hours, her appointment would be given to someone else as they were in high demand.

“It’s nothing,” said Kathleen. She didn’t confirm the appointment. I don’t need someone to tell if I am alright or not, thought Kathleen. I already know. The sun was gentle on her face. Everything outside looked serene and in its right place. She watched the untroubled clouds passing by.

Chapter 33: Just Like That

Gabriel rang to tell Amira that, apparently, Wolfgang was not happy. He didn’t like the new dance instructors that they had been having for the past few weeks. He drew up a petition asking for the return of Gabriel and Amira and got all the residents of the Dementia Unit to sign it. Understandably, the authorities thought that getting the signatures of people who would have signed anything was a questionable endeavour. Nevertheless, deciding that they had nothing to lose, Gabriel and Amira were reinstated as the dance instructors.


In the Waldmeer cafe, that afternoon, Amira overheard a nearby conversation that caught her attention.

“Just like that,” said one woman. “She returned from a trip and went to visit her daughter. Saying that she felt a little tired, she went to lie down. When the daughter returned with a glass of water, she was gone. Just like that; gone. Supposedly, she looked like she was peacefully sleeping but, of course, the daughter was very shocked and distressed.”

“All in all, it’s a fantastic way to go,” said the other woman. “No pain. Simply moved on.”

“I heard that Thomas is not taking it very well and will be taking time off school,” said the first woman.

Thomas? thought Amira. Oh, no. It must have been Kathleen who passed on.


That evening, there was a happy reunion of all in the Dementia Unit dance class, although, it seemed a first meeting for most of the participants. Afterwards, Amira and Gabriel walked to the hospital car park. Gabriel shuddered in the biting night air.

Amira took Gabriel’s hand and said, “Thomas’s friend, Kathleen, has passed on.”

“How terrible,” said Gabriel. “Was she ill?”

“I don’t think so,” said Amira. “It was very sudden.”

“How is Thomas?” asked Gabriel.

“Not good,” said Amira. “I will go and see him when he has gotten over the initial shock.”

Still holding Gabriel’s hand, Amira said, “I think it’s time for you to come home.”

Gabriel looked solemn and then nodded. “I’ll get my things and be about twenty minutes behind you.”

“That will be long enough to warm the house up,” smiled Amira.

And just like that, Gabriel was back home.

End of Part 1

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