Wednesday, April 9, 2014

One Year Ago, Today. Now.

You called me at 8 am
(an hour earlier than your daily morning call.)

The phone vibrating jolted me upright 
like that bad dream
where I feel myself falling
and catch myself into awake.

Your voice was gentle, soft
and lacked oxygen.

"Can you please stay with me today? 
I'm afraid to be alone.
I believe it's going to be soon."


Soon bounced between my ears and morphed into a hundred possibilities.
An hour? A day? A week? A month? A year?

What mama wakes her baby
shaking her shoulders and soul with this word soon?

I tasted morning breath, 
or vomit.

"I'm on my way."

My hand lost grip of the phone.
Maybe I didn't want to hold it, 
or hear you
or come over 
or agree to this notion of soon.

Denial was not my issue.
While others held their noses to swallow,
I willingly tasted every teaspoon.
But in that moment
your request for my company was frightening
because you were certain.

(Rewind and remind me
how soon began in October.
Superstorm Sandy rolled into Cleveland
and we sipped coffee and discussed your dying.
Hurricanes aren't supposed to hit Cleveland like that.)

I arrived and insisted we go out for lunch
because fresh air and food can cure anything.
I put on your clothes, slipped on your shoes
and convinced you and/or myself that you could do it.

in the car i vented about a musician 
who pulled out drugs and snorted them beside me.
a stranger i hardly knew became the focus of our last car ride together.
my frightened, selfish argument for respect met your calm, end-of life argument for compassion.
compassion was always your winning argument, 
but especially then
because you were dying and your soul was sacred.

I think you ordered mussels and a bowl of soup,
and ate no more than three bites.
You were determined to apologize for things that made no sense to me
because I never once doubted your love.

One year ago today
I sat on your bed with your feisty, foul-mouthed granddaughter.
We held your feet, held your hands
and held your request for help in dying.

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