Posts tagged "Death"
The Last Phone Call

The Last Phone Call

A month after my brother died, I scrolled through the contact list on his phone and memorized his voice-activated-dialing commands. His cellular plan would lapse soon, the cell provider couldn’t transfer the audio, and I didn’t have equipment to re-record them. So instead, I wept on my screened-in porch and listened to him say each...
A Short Book on Grief

A Short Book on Grief

Murderers weep in their cell over the death of a dog. Dogs stop eating when their person dies. You can’t protect yourself from grief. There is no preparation that prepares. There is no border wall you can build to keep it in or out. No one escapes it, not the very wealthy, not the very...
Forgetting

Forgetting

You know how you find yourself in the kitchen and you can’t remember what you’re doing there so maybe you put your hands on the cold sink and look out the window but it doesn’t help? What works is to go back to the living room, sit down again on the chair you got up...
There But for the Grace of God

There But for the Grace of God

In the country of my mother’s birth, miracles and sloths keep to themselves. In the weeks I spend looking for some sign of her, the rain persists with its genius for mud and birdless afternoons. Butterflies, people said. Ladybugs, people said. Songbirds, they all said. My mother would come back from the dead as something...
Hoot

Hoot

1. She titled it “Autumn Beauty.” Three crimson maple leaves hang from slender, silvery branches, backgrounded by a watery swirl of teal, lime, burnt umber, and gold. A quiet peacefulness balances the bold beauty of the leaves. The painting was her favorite, and she brought it “just to show” when she and my dad came...
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...