During his last year, my father suffered four strokes and a heart attack. We watched him be yanked back and forth between life and death. This piece was written during this time.
Where the Snow Begins
Snapped in the slack of a crisis that sleeps and roars but doesn’t seem to end, my ninety-three year-old father now has a urinary infection from the catheter, which makes him less coherent. I’m on the phone with him daily, swimming in his lost pauses, crying afterward; letting the beauty and sadness of his life, as it unravels, wash over me, affect me, throw me beyond my self and undertow me back, smaller in this world, larger in the depth of it all. And in the seconds when I wake, floating in the sea of life before climbing onto the raft of this day, dressing in the dark as it lightens, in line waiting for my coffee, falling into the tiny silences between rings while waiting for someone in his room to answer, in these small sideways clearings, I can’t stop thinking—he has nowhere to go, no way to leave the one long procedure his life has turned into. If I could, I’d swoop like a falcon intent on finding home and pull him out of his skin, out of this prelude to his death. I’d carry him in my mouth into the sky and leave him on the softest cloud I could find, so he could curl up around the beginning and finally sleep where the snow begins.
A Question to Walk With: Tell the story of watching someone you love suffer and the ways you found to keep them company.