do you think about dying, much?

I don’t, but I had an extraordinary experience with death, at my father’s bedside - I wasn’t close with him, the opposite, really - there was that bit of perversion and mad men all wrapped up with male ogling and the generic step on women mentality. you know the type: they think women are to be seen and not heard- (and you thought that only applied to children)- women have nothing of import to say, it’s a man’s world, we’re just there for the care taking, to be demure, and always, look good.

this was part of the reason i began my obsession with weight. it felt safer to be fat, and I wondered, would someone love the inside me if I had a bunch of rolls? as it turned out, no one would. when I was thin, when mistaken for a model, I was able to attract all the bees, who droned on about themselves, as I quietly hung on every word. no one seemed to care how I felt, or what I thought. this was my normal, and this was depressing.

I won’t go into any creepy details about how inappropriate my father was, or how much a lunatic my alcoholic, housewife mother was, who played her signature role to a tee. yes, it’s a classic, dreadful, dreary saga. maybe, someday, it’s worth the telling. what I know now is, the more I dwell on anything depressing, the more life I give it. back in the day, a therapist would work for years on this rehashing. did it do any good? well, it gave the analyst a living, and you certainly got someone to feign interest in your life - as long as you paid.

I’m not a big proponent of the couch. casting or otherwise. but back to dying.

unbeknownst to me, my father lay comatose in a convalescent home, pumped up with morphine, till the last days, weeks, and moments of death. I got a call one day, and was given this news. I hung up and thought, hmm. that’s interesting. do I have any unfinished business with my father? yes, all that therapy had gotten through a bit. I’d grieved and been angry and forgiven and so on. I called his room and asked to have the phone put to his ear. i’d heard that comatose people can hear you, so I said goodbye, and that was it. I was good. he was slated to die in 24 hours. how they come to these numbers I’ve no idea. in any event, I certainly wasn’t going to drop everything and race off to bid him a jolly farewell. several days later, I had a realization - he wasn’t going to die until I showed up. slowly, as slowly as I could, I gathered my things and set off on the four hour trip to the hospital.

as I rounded the final hill, I got a sense of urgency to not tarry and go straight there. when I arrived, the troops were assembled. the second wife, my brother, all his best friends, dutifully gathered and murmuring quietly. it was a rather stinky, convalescent home and I’d no intention of staying more than a moment. looking at him lying there, motionless, i felt nothing, really. I was turning to say my goodbyes, that I’d come back the next day, when I distinctly heard a voice tell me he was going to die in 15 minutes. I stepped out of the room. I’d a previous engagement and was running late, so I rescheduled. ever the responsible one. when I went back in, no one was paying a bit of attention to old hank. I sat in the folding chair next to his bed and wondered what to do next. with our history, I was not want to be affectionate, but I had the idea that patting his hand would do. with that gentle gesture, I told him it was ok to go, that I would let his second wife see the grandsons, and acknowledged he’d done the best he could, rather generous on my part, and he died. if I’d a camera I could’ve snapped a picture of his spirit, his essence, leaving. it was that clear. I turned and told my brother to get the nurse. no one else had noticed a thing. she came in, took his pulse, and told me what I already knew.

I left a few minutes later. it was a carcass after all, at that point. walking to my car, I distinctly heard my father’s voice, asking for forgiveness… I’ll never forget it. I realized god, or whoever, along with my father, had orchestrated this. he was sorry and he’d asked for the opportunity to tell me so. it was rather a miracle.

from this, I learned to not be afraid of death. that was the second gift.