"Those were hard things for me to come by, and I offer them to you for what they may be worth." - Toby Wolff



Friday, July 29, 2011

His Perfect Ending




Where do I place him? The bed, the chair? Shall I center him like a television that we all gather around? Should I frame him in the hallway, where we will be sure and brush against him in the narrow passage? Do I hide him in the spare room so my denial can bake itself into a cheese lasagna on the kitchen counter?

What should I wear...his favorite dress, my naked skin? God how I hate my naked skin. God how he loves it. So for him, for me, this last vision....what? Naked. Clothed. Shit, I should have started that diet...been a lasting vision in one of those negligees that show everything instead of this saggy ass frump. Bermuda shorts and a low v-neck. Yeah. I guess. Shit.

How do I touch him? His face. Do I cup his sweet face? Do I hold his hand? Why does that seem so patronizing? Should I place his hand on my breast, pass my beats across the divide of dying? Should I lay against his side with our hearts together, his slowing, mine racing inevitably towards panic? Can he feel that? Should I show it,? Should I make a pretense at calm? Fuck calm. I can't hold my tears. He knows I can't. Why do I try? Why can't I shut up my mind and just sit with this, let it be it's own thing, watch it like a movie played out in super grain 8mm. Silent.

Do I call the children in? How do I share this? I don't want to share this. I have to pee. What if that's the moment? They say loved ones wait until you're out of the room. That's what they say. Right? What if he dies as I wipe? It's too common...too common a moment for death. I won't pee. I'll hold it. I'll pee right here in these fucking bermuda shorts. I'll void myself into the space he'll leave and maybe it won't seem so empty.

Oh hell! I can't control this. There is no way to set this stage and perfect this ending. Look at him! He's just watching me like I'm a fly buzzing around the room. "Land. Land. Land." He's amused. Doesn't even look sad. He looks amused. It's his death. Sheesh! Just ask.

"What do you want, babe....?"



(Our friend Matt W is home dying. One day...three...maybe four. I know nothing of these last moments for them. I just imagine. This is how my mind works itself into a state, whether it be over death, or a choice between brown or cream plates. Racing. I wish it would stop. Will I be buzzing around your death or able to just be still in it? I am wondering, and I'm sad.)
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17 comments:

  1. My mother waited until my little brother, who was an emotional wreck, left the room. He returned just after she left. He smiled through his tears and said, "She waited for me to leave."

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  2. So sorry about your friend, Annie. Actually, my cousin and I faced a situation like this many years ago. Her husband was dying at home from bone cancer, and there was just the two of us there with him. I was straightening up the bedroom a little while she was in the bathroom, and I noticed that his breath had suddenly slowed to almost imperceptible. I called her to come quickly, and sure enough as soon as she came to his side he drew his last breath. You just can't know when that moment will come, and we do indeed have to occasionally go to the bathroom. I'm sure she would rather have been laying by his side with him in her arms during those last few moments, but she did have to go ... as did he.

    (I'm trying a new way to sign in for comments... here's hoping it works...)

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  3. this is great... i understand completely...some folks don't, they think it's too much, too intense, but it's just our mind working things out...

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  4. I understand that this is an awful time for you and yet the depth you reach in this writing, the places you take your reader are deep and real and I admire your guts.

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  5. Bubba - The same with my friend Mike. It goes like that. Even in death, the dying are considerate.

    Linda - We can't hold our bladders or our loved ones indefinitely. I don't know his wife very well, but she is a sweet woman and I was trying to imagine how she might feel. But she may have a very calm interior. I am a duck on the water. No matter what you see, my legs are paddling like crazy beneath the surgace.

    EccGrrl - Yes. I know you get it. Another little duck on the pond. I see you.

    Liza - Thank you. I am not that close to either Matt or his wife, but I hurt for them. I am thinking of them today and praying. I'm also reaching for guts Liza. I need more of it in my writing.

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  6. i think about this stuff too. wondering what i'll be doing at specific moments to come. wondering what will somehow etch itself into me at the moment everything changed. none of us should be wiping when someone dies, right? but sometimes we are.

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  7. I’m sorry for your friend, and the situation. But much of this had me smiling just the same as I visualized some of the many questions you were looking to find answers.

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  8. My Dad waited... I was so lucky to be teaching where I was when Dad had his stroke... I was told to not worry about my classes... that this was more important. Of course, being the way I am, I did meet my classes, but spent the rest of the time at the hospital with Dad... I wanted to be there. He waited until this one afternoon when I went to go watch BoyShoes play soccer...

    I so understand what you mean in your last comment... 'I hurt for them...'

    ~shoes~

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  9. Krista - Well, I'm anal and kinda OCD, so I think around a lot of things over and over and over. I annoy myself, and others :)

    Anthony - As I imagined Matt would be. Amused by all the fussing, all the worry, and for what?

    Shoes - I hear the same tale, time and again. I guess, like I said before, death is one of those things you do alone.

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  10. This is so sad, but filled with love, Annie. I think your presence is all that is needed. It's so hard to lose a loved one, but it's a precious gift to be able to tell them goodbye...

    So many of my family & friends died in accidents. The pain of no farewell never, ever leaves you. (Ray's sister knew their mother was dying of pancreatic cancer and did not tell him until the day AFTER she died. I can never, ever forgive her this horrific injustice to my husband...) Your words are beautiful, just like you.

    Love you,
    Marion

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  11. Death is common, and ugly and mean. Let's not pretend it's not. I once saw a deer shot, how it lost control over its bladder and sphincter moments after impact. Ugly and mean and painful. Whatever beauty we hold in our bodies comes from life and love pressing against us, skin on skin. Memories at some point. Dare we hope for love to surround us as we lay dying? Dare we hope for it to act on us and through us? Have we been that alive?

    A painful read, Annie. Of course, it has to be.

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  12. Marion - How tragic! Why should death be a secret? But then again, I have a brother-in-law who just had his 5th child. He told us not to tell anyone. Huh??? What the HELL is that about? I don't understand people. I needed some time away from them today. I got it. Thank you Lord!

    Andreas - This comment is a perfect poem. It is honest...th skinned and exposed honest, open to the flies as they lay their eggs and hatch under our newly growing skin honest. The larva should wriggle there in their birth, for death is just as unbecoming. You have it right. Yet, love can act on us and through us. It has already, as I live and breathe.

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  13. He knows, it makes him smile, 'cause he's leaving and he's had a peak already at the most beautiful thing in the world...I'm sure he wants you be comfortable, 'cause for him, it's the beginning of the most Awesome Life, RealLife ever, so to you my friend I say go Pee

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  14. After days at her bedside, my mother-in-law waited until we'd gone home for the night to die. I love the way you express yourself. Especially love the second to last paragraph-"what if he dies as I wipe?...."

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  15. Lorraine - Matt is gone....into a new life. Yes, an awesome eternal life.

    Yvonne - Thank you. I can only imagine this. I am uncomfortable with death, as previously stated. Perhaps in writing of it, I am practicing in my way, preparing for such things, although it hardly seems possible.

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  16. i'm so sorry for your loss. i know this room, this situation. thinking of you...

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Thank you for listening.