Sunday, August 19, 2012


Tina, who works with me, called yesterday to say that her father had died. Just dropped in front of them all while they were in the yard. They'd done CPR and he'd been alive when they took him to the hospital, but Tina was calling at 10am, from the hospital, and he wasn't alive then. Later she texted me, around 5, and was only leaving the hospital then. I obsessed on that all day--on what had transpired to keep her at the hospital for seven hours after she knew he was dead. I calibrated it to Dad's death, Tom's death. (This is Tom, to the left, in the yard of his home in Ireland, a few weeks before that horrible day. Too young for a cane, but he'd rejected physical therapy after a hip replacement. Too young to be dead, too, but I'm starting to understand and even accept that endings just come when they do.) I didn't want to spend Saturday doing this--I had things to get done--but all day I clocked through the day Dad died, like a film in the VCR. Had I overlooked something that should have kept me with him for seven hours instead of one? Maybe Tina's family stayed with her father until he was ready to be moved to the funeral home. Maybe he didn't have to have an autopsy. Maybe they simply sat with him after he was dead longer than we did.... My God, did we leave too soon? Dad hated being alone--hated it more than anything. Nobody rushed us out: we just couldn't stand around him staring down at him any longer than we did.

I see how this goes for me now, when the facts of a death--so mundane, so common to us all--trigger the reel. I'm both dreading and anticipating the funeral: dreading the reality of Tina's loss; anticipating the excuse to visit with my own. (I lie when Liam asks from the other room, "Who are you talking to, Mom?" "Just myself," I tell him. I remember my mother saying the same to me when I was a child, and now I understand: she had an entire community of beloveds on the other side of the wall, and part of her went with them.)


So much has changed in life since I last posted here in 2009. New job, and new life in Georgia.  A horrible year last year--a real crusher. But we survived, and above obsession notwithstanding; we're solid again.

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