Thu, 23 April 2009 - 3:42 pm

Sax

Sax slipped away sometime in the night. He didn’t get up and tiptoe out. He didn’t melt into the shadows when no-one was looking. He didn’t wake up. He was pale and breathing shallowly, and lying very still. By morning, he was grey and not moving at all.

We gathered silently around his couch, each one pulled over by the sight of someone else standing there. No-one said anything. No-one needed to. I wasn’t the only one with tears on my cheeks, though none of us broke the silence with sobs.

Masterson checked his pulse, just to be sure, just to make it official. He looked at us and shook his head.

After a few minutes, I realised that most of us were holding hands. I had Ben on one side and Matt on the other. It felt like those warm contacts were all that held me up. I nudged Matt and nodded at him to take the hand on the other side of him as well. Thorpe was surprised but Nugget already had hold of his other hand. Dillon took the hint and latched onto the little girl and Masterson. Sally completed the circle when she took Ben’s hand.

 

I don’t think any of us knew Sax very well, but he was still one of us. He was our rock – all of us leant on him at some point. He shared his music with us and helped us raise our voices together.

I remember when we found him in the city. I thought then that he was an old man, that he wasn’t likely to make it out of that nightmare alive. He turned out to be one of the strongest of us. Even when he was injured, he pressed on, unwilling to slow us down. We would have waited for him; we did, at times. I think he hated making us wait, but no-one ever complained about it.

He was a father-figure for Nugget. He looked after her, and I think she listened when he spoke only to her. She seems to understand that he’s gone, sniffing quietly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her cry before.

He had a bond with Sally as well. That time that he spent on the boat with her and Masterson changed something between them. They made peace with each other and the shadows of their pasts, and came out stronger for it. The loss of his daughter had crushed him, but he was brighter with Sally to care about. I can see her shoulders shaking from here.

We don’t know much about his family except that they were missing when we went looking for them. It nearly broke him – he loved them very much.

He gave us so many things. He taught me about electronics, enough to rewire engines if I need to (and I have needed to). He fixed a radio so that we could listen for signals, for signs of life. He gave me a way to keep this laptop alive, so that I could keep writing this blog. He gave us so many things that we will carry with us as we move forward.

 

Standing in a circle around him, there was only one thing that felt right to do. My throat was clogged; I had to clear it a couple of times before it would work. My voice was rough-edged and I had to start over after the first line, but the second time I kept going. Struggling up out of our gloom one by one, the others joined in. Even Nugget mouthed the words. Afterwards, there were hugs and tears as we finally let him go.

I hope you heard us, Sax. I hope we made you proud. We love you. We’ll miss you and your Amazing Grace.

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