Posts tagged "Death"
Welcome to the Grotto

Welcome to the Grotto

We drive to Dickeyville in search of Jesus and find him entombed behind glass. My seven-year-old daughter Ellie marvels at the mystery. Of all the places Jesus might’ve called home, how did he choose a small town somewhere in southwestern Wisconsin? Welcome to the Grotto, a sign reads, Gift Shop in Back. We exit the...
Kindness and Sorrow

Kindness and Sorrow

“Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.” ~ Naomi Shihab Nye When my husband was freshly dead, I felt as if I had been cut open for surgery and my veins and arteries cauterized so that I wouldn’t bleed all over the pavement leading...
Line

Line

It is coming up on five p.m. when you push your way out of the crowded bus and onto the street that will take you to your child’s kindergarten. You must walk the final few hundred yards, a trip of less than ten minutes for a woman of good health in her mid-thirties. As you...
Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island

Did you know that the common housefly, like the one circling the room now in a wide, counter-clockwise circuit, hums in the key of F? It’s true. They come in different sizes, of course, but their bodies scale so that the vibrations of their wings correlate to the pitch intervals in F major: F, G,...
Entrance Privilege

Entrance Privilege

It doesn’t matter that months have passed since my brother’s gray Tercel was hauled away from here with bits of him inside. Or that I’ve searched this patch of grassy ground where it sat many times by now. I step from my car and comb over it again, for cigarette butts, scraps of paper, convenience...
Still Life

Still Life

“Dale,” the restaurant’s hostess calls from her list, and because it’s been five years I don’t look up. My brother’s dead, and no hostess will raise him or call him forth to claim one last omelet. I’d like to see him cross the foyer of rustling people-filled benches though, have him share in this Sunday...
What Happens When You Drown

What Happens When You Drown

A month after your suicide, when I’ve quit fearing a return to routine would mean I never loved you, I restart my daily swims at the university aquatic facility.  The facility has two pools. Fitness, eleven-feet deep, where recent high school swim stars flash down cool-water lanes, chlorine-bleached hair tucked under bright swim caps. Leisure,...
The Cremation

The Cremation

In the cremation chamber, a solid wall blocked us from the furnace. This was new, I heard, as it used to be that the furnace was in plain view. Perhaps the sheer horror of watching a loved one turning into ashes had led to the change. On the wall, a small, low window opened to...
On the Eve of My Mother’s Dying

On the Eve of My Mother’s Dying

What hospice people do is coordinate. They coordinate my mother’s move from the hospital where she was taken unresponsive to the assisted living facility where she remains unresponsive. They coordinate the ambulance personnel who transfer her from the stretcher to the hospital bed whose rental and delivery they have also coordinated. They coordinate the schedule...
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...