Posts tagged "Death"
The Shape of Emptiness

The Shape of Emptiness

His mother dies three weeks before the end of the quarter. A boy, a good student: he emails me to tell me the news, asks permission to be absent. Of course, I say, take as much time as you need. I tell him he can withdraw, take an incomplete, but he promises to be back...
The Ten-Year Wake

The Ten-Year Wake

I sit in a rental car in an office parking lot in Atlanta watching for a blue Pathfinder, the car my former therapist, Randy, drives. I glance at my watch. He’s late. It’s 10:15 a.m., Friday, May 13, 2005. I stopped seeing him regularly when I moved to Michigan several years ago. Maybe he drives...
Letter to Marjorie

Letter to Marjorie

Dear Marjorie, I’m on the floor in our spot by the window playing cards with your ghost. I had such nightmares about us last night. Buildings all over the earth were shedding their clothes. It kept raining metal and glass, drywall and bricks, until all that was left was a skeletal world of I-beam steal....
A Nice Person

A Nice Person

Steven’s father couldn’t stop talking that day about the weather (windy, cold) and the Lennon Sisters who’d stolen his wife’s singing career. At one point, he clutched my hand with his own cold bone fingers. A wadded wet tissue passed between us. Steven was there, of course, it was his mother dying in the room....
Success and Prosperity

Success and Prosperity

A car hit our dog Prosperity not too long ago. The vet took out the staples in his body recently, and it looks like Prosperity has his health back. Prosperity’s big brother is Success. No one remembers when we started to call Success Success, as my grandma named him. (Grandma’s last name is Zheng, same...
Blue

Blue

Years ago, Dad, you asked me at midnight to come outside. I followed you—of course I did—out of our house, into the humid dark. My feet brushed against the cool lick of grass, my hair lay still against my face in the unmoving night. Crickets whispered. A car on 55th Street hummed as you handed...
Post-Mortem

Post-Mortem

In the arctic, there is very little predation. The cold and lack of scavengers or insects keeps death on pause. The puffin with wet wings will lay on the beach for months. A washed up narwhal must wait for a polar bear. If he dies north of the tundra, a polar bear must wait for...
Send Out Succor

Send Out Succor

At six, I mastered Pig Latin, that clunky language inherited by children. “E-way ate-hay iver-lay or-fay inner-day,” my brother and I whispered, pretending to stick our fingers down our throats. At eight, I learned Morse code using a handheld flashlight our family physician had given me. With my thumb, I triggered short dits and long...
Second Language

Second Language

Rarely my mother passed away. Instead my mother died when I was eight. A way to say, this will not be easy. She lay on a pillow of gravel and grass, hands bound behind her back. She stood in the kitchen, a coffee cup from Hershey’s Chocolate World in her hand, and scolded me for...
The Burnt Plane

The Burnt Plane

As Jason Murphy’s mom drove us to the farm, I wondered how it would look now that his dad was dead. It had been almost a year. I pictured man-high weeds and rusty tractors, the house dark and empty, the giant barn rotting with its roof caved in and black birds flying out the broken...
Necrologies: Mothers & Fathers

Necrologies: Mothers & Fathers

BROWN RAT We only lived in the little house for three years. I still slept in a crib and watched Sesame Street while my mother did calisthenics. I do not remember eating or sleeping there. I don’t remember what the yard looked like. I do not remember my father’s shape as he moved through the...
Extinctions

Extinctions

Theresa’s mother is crossing the street, carrying two stuffed animals in her arms, and this is the most apocalyptic thing my mom has ever seen. Theresa was born with gummy lungs. After a while, her lungs got too gummy, and she died. Now Theresa’s mom is coming over to give my sister and me two...
Faithful

Faithful

Nobody can call in or out. Her father doesn’t want the ringing telephone to interrupt his wife’s dying, so the phone is turned off. When his daughters remind him that there are people waiting to hear, wanting to know, he roars, “She’s dying. They all know. When she’s dead, you can call them and tell...

Lag Time

It doesn’t thunderstorm in California. Not like those from my memory of home. I listen for them at night when the sky half-promises, but it rarely delivers the noise I need. This I know: If you count the time it takes between the flash of a Kansas lightning bolt and the crack before the roll...
One More Eulogy

One More Eulogy

–for Forrest Bartlett (1936-2011) I’d arrived a bit late, and the lot for the church had filled up. So I parked in a spot by the shady lawyer’s office, which was closed on a weekend afternoon. By the time I ran in, the tributes had already started, rough and funny and tender all at once, just...
Calcification

Calcification

Less than a year had passed since my mother died from a burst valve in a heart no one knew was faulty. That’s raw when you’re ten. And then Buttercup died. Buttercup was an albino guinea pig with eyes like maraschino cherries. She wasn’t mine. Samantha owned Buttercup, loved her. She gave the rodent a...
Never Seen the Like

Never Seen the Like

My three brothers, two sisters, and I carried our mother’s coffin into the church on a Monday in April and out to the flower-filled hearse on the Tuesday. We carried her on our shoulders, raised her up. People said they’d never seen the like, women carrying a coffin. Dad, he said, it made him proud....
The Cruelty We Delivered: An Apology

The Cruelty We Delivered: An Apology

I. We didn’t know what to do—your rocket energy sending Thai monks into fits, as they chased you through the Chicago temple, hands hiking robes like dresses, flip flops slapping callused heels. Your trouble made us roll our eyes and turn our back when you wanted nothing more than to pal around with us. You...