There are things you learn when you watch a person die.

You get to know the names of half a dozen different types of painkiller. If you're a little scientifically minded, you learn some technical terms; oncogenes, metastases. You even get to learn the name of the company that makes the curtains to go around hospital beds, as if thats any use to anyone at all (you need something to look at during visiting hours, and the label on the curtain is less frightening than the pale figure in the bed).

Most of all, though, you learn that there's pretty much nothing you can't forgive.

There's nothing intimidating about your childhood tormentor now. His hands tremble, constantly. Couldn't make a fist if he tried. He's not big now, either. You thought it was good at first, when all that fat started to melt away and he actually looked normal, healthy for the first time in years. But then the fat was all gone and muscle started to follow and now he just looks wasted.

It's surprising. You expected to feel vindicated. After all, didn't you once write, in that green-leather diary you got for Christmas all those years ago, that you hated him and wanted him to die?

You've still got that scar on your cheek from ten years ago when he got angry and, forgetting his own strength, you suppose, sent you flying into the coffee table. You still cringe when someone raises their voice and you'll probably never get to the point where your spine doesn't crawl when someone holds you by your wrist. Your old man, he never was going to win any father of the year awards. But he wasn't the worst, either. He fed you. He bought you clothes and paid for your books and uniform for school. Sometimes he ordered pizza and he'd sit there while you ate, sipping his lager and telling you awful, offensive jokes (you love them - the more they make people wince, the better they are). Sometimes he didn't drink much at all and you think you loved him then.

There are just enough of those moments in your memory to make watching the mighty fall sad rather than satisfying. This bone-white, trembling bag of pain and bones used to be a nice man. It was a long time ago, you think, probably before you were born, but he had to have been good because your mother loved him, once. She loved him enough to marry him and your mother wasn't an idiot. And, in those precious moments between drinks, when everything was startlingly clear and your father wasn't angry at the world, he loved you.

And that's enough. Enough to make holding grudges feel uncomfortably like childishness. Hating takes energy that you don't have anymore and it's easier just to let to, to let forgiveness sweep in like the tide and wash the crudely built sandcastles of your resentment away.

Heres something else you've learned lately, reading posters on hospital walls. In a healthy human, the viscosity of blood averages in at around 0.0027 N-sm^-2. That's thicker than water after all.