In Knight & Deigh, Hannice Knight suffered a back injury that left him without the use of his legs. Sophie Deigh, physiotherapist and recent widow, devoted herself to supporting him.
As Hannice’s body recovered, he became ever closer to Sophie, and soon they found themselves in a relationship they had neither anticipated nor intended and for which neither was fully prepared.
A bump in the Knight followed Hannice as he juggled business, hedonism, marriage and ultimately parenthood.
Knight after Knight is the third and final part of the Hannice Knight story. Starting after the marriage of Hannice and Sophie’s only son, David to Jess, the only child of Jason and Noelani Reeves of Hawaii, it traces the Knight family’s progression through the generations.
Knight after Knight. Chapter fourteen, part three.
Yes, life was indeed good.
Until, that is, I got up one morning and noticed that Max was still in bed. That struck me as odd, as she had always been up before me. Always. Well, maybe not always, but certainly since we’d been living here in Dar-es-Salaam. I called out her name. Nothing. I went upstairs, gently opened her door and peeked into her room. She looked to be asleep so I thought it best to leave her. As I turned to close her door, though, something made me go in and check on her, in case she was poorly. I put my hand onto her forehead to check for a temperature. It felt cold. I felt for but couldn’t find a pulse on her neck, then I tried on her wrist. No joy. I didn’t worry, as I really had no idea what I was doing anyway. I checked my own neck and wrist to be sure I was looking in the right places and found them without any problem. I put my ear against her nose to feel her breath. Nothing. No pulse, no breath. It suddenly dawned on me that she may have died at some time during the night.
I called one-one-two and described what I had found. An ambulance arrived within probably ten or fifteen minutes; I can’t be sure, my mind wasn’t as clear as I’d have liked it to have been. A paramedic came in, did pretty much the same as I had and reached the same conclusion. He attached a heart monitor, switched it on, ran it for a while and shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Mr Knight,” he said, “there’s nothing I can do. She’s gone. Would you like me to take her to the hospital or call for a doctor to come here? I can’t issue a death certificate.”
“Have the doctor come here,” I said, “I need a few minutes to say goodbye to my oldest friend.”
He called a doctor and left us. I called Lindy. I knew he’d want to know. The doctor came, examined Max and confirmed what the paramedic had told me. He issued a death certificate showing the cause of death as natural causes, heart failure.
Lindy arrived five minutes after the doctor had left. The poor lad fell to pieces as soon as he saw Max’s body. He was a much more emotional soul than I was.
“Where’s Roger now?” I asked.
“At home with the kids,” he blubbered.
“He should probably stay there,” I said, “I need to make funeral arrangements.”
“Does… did Max have any family?”
“No. She was an only child,” I said, “so were both her parents. So no aunts, uncles or cousins. She was the end of her line.”
“We were her family,” he wailed.
I knew how close he and Max had become over the years they worked together, and I did my best to comfort the poor boy. I did try, honestly, but after more than half a century of friendship, I was in pain, too. Unfortunately for him, Lindy didn’t have the years of emotional repression necessary to allow him to deal with this kind of loss without great displays of emotion. Or maybe fortunately for him, Lindy didn’t have the years of emotional repression necessary to make him deal with this kind of loss without any display of emotion. Perhaps it’s just the way we are. Either way, this was my third death in the family – and Max was as close to family as anyone could get whilst not a blood relation.
Losing Papa was, and I’m not proud to admit this, easy. He and I never really got on, and his transition from an active, if physically disabled, man to death took place over a long period and gave us all plenty of time to prepare ourselves.
Sophie had been unwell for a while, even if we didn’t realise just how unwell she was. Even so, her death came as a shock. Had we known the full nature of her condition and had a realistic if unpleasant prognosis, we could have dealt with it better. As it was, she went, in my eyes at least, from healthy to dead in a very few minutes. That was the shock.
But Max. Max. We had said our goodnights the evening before in the way we had every night since we arrived in Dar together: I was seated in my chair, Max said it was bedtime for her. She walked over to me, placed a hand on my shoulder and said “Good-night, Mr Knight,’, I gave her hand a gentle squeeze and replied, “Sleep tight, Ms Matham,” and we went to our separate rooms. She seemed fine, same as ever. I have no words to describe adequately the shock, the horror, the sense of loss I felt when I found her lifeless body. Knowing also that she and I were, within a couple of months, the same age, it made me think seriously about my own mortality. That was something I’d never done before. Oh, we’d talked about the subject, but it was always pretty much at the level of an intellectual exercise. Suddenly it became not only real but current; maybe even urgent.