Tag Archives: dying

For now

Shy as beaked whales, my metacarpals surface from the swollen sea of my downstream hand, breaching a bruised ocean, a flood of healing. A mile away, ALS gathers the last of my friend, whose eyes no longer contain her. If dying were personal and malice medical, it would look like this: ruthless, relentless, clear and […]

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Synopsis

I I assemble the notebook of my mother’s dying: the specialists’ names, numbers, addresses. Diagnoses, prognoses, prescriptions. Explanations of every benefit we do not feel. We decline patient portals. For our convenience, they say, but we are not yet fools.  We recognize the human hand washed by technology of our sticky anxiety, the obdurate, unanswerable […]

Witnessing

Life leaves those you love at its own pace, in its own way: the brief violence of injury, the cataclysmic failure of brain or heart. Both to be preferred, you think now, to the implacable tick of illness, rogue cells propagating, occupying a vanishing vitality. After a time, you wish to find him dead, gone […]

Dear FEMA

  Disaster Number 4498 requires a death certificate, cause clearly stated; an invoice, itemized, the date of our disaster — your demise — the cost of which can be deftly monetized in America, where any harm may be codified, indemnified in that coarse ledger, as if we should be, could be, compensated, reparated; our fragments […]

This urn; these ashes

Your ashes near, I drive you home, headlights on; a funeral procession of one. I imagine everyone pulls over, heads bowed, hands over hearts for you, a good man. I am too somber. The time of disease, of dementia, is over. Now, I can remember how you made us laugh. Now — in a form […]

End zone

Slumped and somnolent, my father smells of urine and stasis, his eyes half-lidded, his shirt half-buttoned, his catheter — part of him now, no less than the wheelchair– leaking from his belly like a poorly kept secret. I dream his body a piñata at a party no one believes, an imitation life waiting to break […]

In praise of dead fathers,

the clarity of their absence. Does enough of you remain to shoulder the dulled implement, excavate some shard of horror at your disappeared life? No. Your fluid, nimble brain has gone porous and brittle, and what can you see in the attenuating dark? This is you now, slumped in the wheel chair, confused and compliant, a […]

Witnessing

Life leaves those you love at its own pace, in its own way: the brief violence of injury, the cataclysmic failure of brain or heart. Both to be preferred, you think now, to the implacable tick of illness, rogue cells propagating, occupying a vanishing vitality. After a time, you wish to find him dead, gone […]

Hold

Please listen closely because their menu options have changed and your call is important to them, even if they are experiencing an unusually high call volume. If you are having a medical emergency, hang up and dial 911. But if your need is less acute, more ordinary — say, a human being who might listen, […]

Leaving

I hoped he was dead when I woke the next morning,  eight hours after I left him holding the hand of the next hospice volunteer. We call it “vigil:”  a bearing witness and keeping company with the actively dying. We do it for them and their loved ones —  exhausted, grieving families and friends — who are desperate […]