T: Please continue.

K: About that time Kieran woke. His was facing away from me but must have sense my presence because he turned toward me immediately.

T: What did you say?

K: Didn’t say anything. Just smiled through the tears forming in my eyes.

T: Tears of joy?

K: Tears of confusion.

T: Explain.

K: Happy he was awake. Sad he might not live much longer. Frustrated there was nothing I could do. Conflicted on what I should share or say with regard to both Rog and myself. I had always been very direct and honest in my relationships and for the first time felt to withhold information might be the wisest choice.

T: I’m listening.

K: My heart spoke otherwise. And then he lifted his arm and held his hand out and my heart jumped into my throat. To hold one’s hand has great significance for me. Kieran and I had never held hands. I had dreamed of it and then, here we were.

T: Describe the moment.

K: [laughter] Damn disappointing. My hands were bandaged from my foolishness of a few hours before. Imagine shaking hands with gloves on.

T: But still . . .

K: But still, it was wonderful. Despite his condition his grip was still firm, still conveyed a soul with life, not someone ready to give up. I wasn’t sure who derived more from that simple embrace. I do know that grasp comforted, however temporary, many of my fears.

T: Who spoke first?

K: He did. Noticed the tears in my eyes. Asked why.

T: And you said?

K: I hesitated. His eyes were locked on mine and I felt as if he could see right through me.

T: Why the hesitation?

K: I don’t know. Didn’t know then either. I knew I had to tell him everything—direct and honest, no half-truths, no pampus shiott. Yet the words . . . well, the words, like my body outside the door just a few minutes before, failed to respond.

T: Must have been awkward.

K: Was. Till he smiled that swimmingly handsome smile. And then the tears just flowed. His grip on my hand increased slightly and his eyes never left mine. And then he asked.

T: Yes.

K: He asked for a full and complete update. So I told him Rog had secured the medicine but had been trapped on Neraj. I told him we had no contact with Rog since the Tear closed and no idea when he would be able to return. I told him there was a chance the virus would overwhelm him before Rog could return.

T: How did he respond to that news?

K: He said thanks. Thanks for being straight up. And then he asked me how long Trev thought he had.

T: And?

K: I told him. A matter of hours. And I told him he was a very lucky Hynerian. He laughed and asked why.

T: Yes, I’m asking too [laughter].

K: If he had been a normal Hynerian he would have died. Only the fluke deformity of two hearts saved him. I did tell you we valued those children of the shells as rare and special. Well, in this case, it saved his life.

T: Was he surprised you knew?

K: He knew Trev would know as soon as he examined him. Then he said something I’ll never forget. I can hear it in my mind as if he had just whispered in my ear.

T: Well . . .?

K: He said, “Let go.”

T: Let go? Let go of what?

K: [laughing] That’s exactly what I thought. Again, I felt like his eyes saw straight into my heart so I was a bit concerned by what he meant.

T: So what did he mean?

K: He saw the confusion in my eyes. Told me to let go of my attachment.

T: Attachment to what?

K: That’s what I asked him and he asked, no he told me, my tears betrayed me. He told me my tears clouded more than my vision but they clouded my heart. I was ready to argue with him when he dropped the second bombshell of a statement on me.

T: Which was?

K: He needed me now and he needed me here. That unless my tears were tears of joy, which he and I knew they weren’t, then I was not what he needed at this exact moment and since his moments were perhaps down to hours . . .

T: Sounds rather harsh on his part.

K: It was the slap in the face I needed. I was not too proud to admit when I was wrong nor too proud to pretend to be the stronger of the two at this moment. So I asked him to enlighten me because I wasn’t completely sure I understood what he meant.

T: Please continue.

K: My head was spinning. Here was a Hynerian on pain killing meds, perhaps within hours of meeting the great Janus and he is as lucid and wise and philosophical as ever—educating me—he is thinking of me—in his last moments. Do you have any idea what that feels like?

T: I can’t say I do.

K: Well, it was mind blowing. They say truth is stranger than fiction. Then we entered a very deep discussion of life and death. I felt like I was at the feet of Papa again on the beaches of Valla during a rare three moon evening.

T: Can you share a little of that discussion?

K: Sure but I have to warn you we could spend all night talking about his insights.

T: I’m not going anywhere.

K: Well, I’ll keep it brief. He starts by telling me he is at peace. Peace with living intensely in this moment unlike he has ever lived before. I told him I didn’t quite understand and he smiled. He said he didn’t quite understand either forty-eight hours before. Oh, he had been taught these things and could have given the right answer on a test but that at this moment his understanding was at a different level.

He must have seen the look on my face so he continued.

Holding my hand with such a firm yet light grip I felt as if the very essence of his energy was flowing from him to me. How that was possible was a mind-*uck for me at the time. I felt lightheaded, I felt seduced, I felt guilty at the self indulgence I allowed myself to slip into but above all I felt a connection with another, an intensity of communication I had never felt before and even to this day do not have the words to adequately describe.

“Nothing stays the same Kyra. Not me, not you, not us. Everything changes in every moment. Die to the past, you must. Celebrate the birth of the present by holding tomorrow at bay. Stay present with me now. Live with me these moments now. And by Janus, stop attaching to an outcome. Outcomes are important but the attachment to outcomes are a fools game. Let go of your attachment to an outcome. As long as you hold onto something which is forever moving, forever changing, you will suffer the pain of incongruity. Flow with the present. Change with it. Resistance is futile,” he said with a wink.

T: Did you understand what he meant by the difference between an outcome and the attachment to an outcome?

K: Dissolve into now was the only thought going thought my head. Other than the concern that I wasn’t sure I could do it. I was awestruck that he could.

T: Getting back to the difference between—

K: Yes, yes, I haven’t forgotten your question. Just recently your entertainment industry celebrated something called the Oscars. Is that right?

T: Yes.

K: And these awards are voted on and someone is awarded a little gold statue.

T: In a manner of speaking yes.

K: And would you say much importance is placed on who wins, much anticipation, much worry and concern.

T: I think that would be fair, yes.

K: Now let me ask you this, “Does the award change the work?”

T: No.

K: That is my answer.

T: Fair enough. Anything else you want to share about the discussion on life and death?

K: Well, for whatever reason, in the midst of that discussion he thought to ask me why my hands were bandaged.

T: What did you say?

K: Interesting dilemma. So far I had been completely forthright in answering his questions. No little white lies or half-truths. And in a split second I was either going to be consistent or go down a different path.

T: Would it be so bad to withhold the contents of your heart?

K: That’s not the question and if you think it is you are confused.

T: Okay, I’m confused. Enlighten me as you say.

K: The content of my heart is one thing. The character, something completely different. The question at hand—I knew it and I knew he knew it—was a question of character, not content.

T: So you had no choice—

K: We always have choice my dear.

T: So?

K: So I decided to choose character.

T: Which meant?

K: I was going to be completely honest on what happened and why. He was going to know how I felt.

T: Quite a risk on your part.

K: The risk would have been to do otherwise.

T: So you told him.

K: No.

T: [eyebrows raised]

K: Yul interrupted. Said she had an urgent message. So I politely excused myself.

T: What was the urgent message?

K: Rog was near but in trouble. She needed my help.