The Closest I have Ever Come to Dying

DSC_0439 (2).JPG“It’s ‘Fiddler on the Roof’”,

Dad smiles, the blue paper curtain

pulls back to reveal

a mounted television set.

A gray pall settles in the room.

The nurses change over

like guards.

 

“Yea, it is, Dad”, shifting in

the uncomfortable, faux leather chair.

I nod, accepting the memory.

He glances downward at

his paper-thin pinkish skin.

A ringed, yellow bruise surrounds

his IV.

 

“We loved this movie”,

he exhales decades of cigarettes

and coffee. Teeth yellowed.

Content, but just last week,

he grabbed my hand and begged

“get me out of here”,

he cried.

 

Laurel and Hardy, black and white,

funny facial expressions. Like Stan,

he scratched his head.

All six of his children

belly laughing, red Kool-Aid

erupting from tiny noses. He

says, “Remember?”

 

“I’m sorry about everything.”

Watery blue-grey eyes, bloodshot and

distant. “No, Dad, no”. I move

to his side, cradle his hand,

I become parent. “I’m sorry”,

I whisper. He nods and returns

to sleep.

 

He lifts his arms, as if climbing

an imaginary ladder. Mumbles

something I can’t hear. He calls

his sister’s name, “Helen”.

He sees the farm where he grew up.

He climbs so high, I have to bring

him back.

 

He sleeps, again, after the nurse

administers the morphine.

I lay my cheek on his pillow.

Close, so he can hear my song.

A show tune. One he played daily

on his black upright piano.

I sing through tears.

And, I know

that this

is the closest

I have ever come

to dying.

Susan Ward Trestrail, Copyright 2016

 

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