Only The Terrapins Did Not Die (Sri)
And because she made herself useful around the hospital, working in the lab, running errands for the nurses and doctors, fetching water and food for patients, and so on, the Child was also familiar with the deep and powerful mystery of human death. One day she’d be chatting with an old woman; the next, the woman’s bed would be empty and stripped to its mattress. Late one sultry night, the Child delivered a bite of supper to her mother as she kept watch on a dying patient in a little room off one of the wards. She saw the man start in his solitary bed and try to rise on his elbows, toothless mouth snapping at the air, his eyes wide and fixed on something far beyond the limits of the room, the hospital, the town, the world. She saw her mother ease him down and talk to him soothingly and fold his hands around a rosary, saw him try to take a breath and fail, and try and fail again, and that was that. Her mother called the Child to her side and they said a prayer over the body. Then her mother rose, her shadow wheeling hugely across the wall and ceiling, and flung open the shutters of the window as if setting something free.
From In The Mouth of the Whale