Journal Entries: What Comes Next?



It happened. I want to write it down just the way it happened so I don’t lose it. At the same time I can’t it hurts too bad. I’ll save it for another day. I’ll trust that it is in my DNA


Daddy died the day before yesterday. I was sitting with him when his breathing slowed and then stopped, like the tick of a clock softly winding down. Even after his last breath, I could feel the gentle fluttery beat of his heart under the palm of my hand, it reminded me of the stray bird he had once nursed for a while, we kept it in a box in Daddy’s room and it sat on his arm. He was so delighted by it. As his breathing slowed I read from I Corinthians 13….about things passing away, these three remain, faith hope and love the greatest is love. You are like that Daddy, I could never ask for a better father than you, I named all the people who loved him, told him he had given me everything I need, it would all be alright. we’d all be fine. (ah, here it is. I’m scared. I’m scared of being all alone. I was telling him that he is never alone, and here I am feeling scared. deep breaths. )

Tim went to pick up my daughter from school, and I was waiting, my eldest son sat with Grandpa for a bit, I was quiet, thinking I’d wait to clean and dress him when Tim returned. I’d done this for Mom in the hospital and it was such a sacred memory, practically like an anointing of sorts, as I washed and dressed her together with the nurse, marveling at the still beautiful, 85 year old body which had birthed me and my sister. Still waiting for Tim to arrive,  I went in to hold Dad’s hand one more time. Hadn’t counted on rigor mortis setting in so fast. Suddenly I became urgent, found myself with a Grandpa Ken Doll of sorts, whose arms didn’t bend all that easily at the elbows anymore! I rushed to wash him, breaking into a sweat, it didn’t feel quite as holy as I had envisioned, I felt more like an inexperienced auto mechanic. Suddenly it didn’t feel like Daddy, but a stiff dead man and I was all alone. Still I had a job to complete.  Whispering a thanks under my breath as I eased the gown over his head and arms into the sleeves without any body parts snapping, I felt I had dodged a bullet. I straightened his legs, crossed his hands over his belly and tried to make his neck look comfortable. I pulled up the sheet to his shoulders and laid the pretty crocheted blanket given to us by hospice over his chest.

Then I promptly went straight to the bathroom and threw up.

The morning after I was okay, I could hear his voice in my head, “Okay, Kiddo,  keep moving, clear all this clutter, keep the kitchen clean, things will fall into place. What comes next? All the words I heard from him so often, even as his body became weaker and weaker he always wanted to know what was coming next, with me, with the kids, with Tim, …I kept busy and did laundry, folded blankets, put cast offs away, he gave me so many things to smile about as I kept moving.

7/5 –  I slept badly, the ultra bright moon shone directly in my face through the skylight and woke me up. I kept having fitful dreams of being at work, or at the hospital , trying to get home, and never arriving, knowing that Daddy was no longer waiting for me there. I want my little girl,….kept hearing that in my head.

In the morning I was a hot mess. They came to pick up the medical supplies. I began pacing as I waited for the driver, walking in and out of his now empty room I kept expecting him to be there sleeping, or looking up at me, Hey Dad, what’s on your mind today? I’d ask him this several times a day, hoping for one more story I had never heard , or some evidence that he was at peace, prepared for the death that was coming. My biggest wish was for him to die at peace. I threw myself down on that stained egg crate mattress, stretching out as he did, what did he see from this vantage point day after day? What did it feel like? My eyes moved up to the corner of the ceiling where, one afternoon, clearly having visions,  he had described an olive colored staircase leading upwards.

Anyway,  when the young beautiful and healthy man arrived with the big truck, he took one look at my face and seemed startled. I had been sobbing on and off all morning, I think the desperate look in my eyes may have scared him a little. He was very quiet as he removed the oxygen machine, the bedside table and commode, the little nebulizer that made daddy’s last two weeks so much more comfortable. I’m sorry for your loss.

As he took apart the hospital bed, I remembered how pleased Dad was when they first set it up that Tuesday in April, ten days after Mom died. What am I, a prince? He was so impressed with the button controls and how efficient it all seemed. He could still walk then, though he was getting more and more wobbly. When we got the bed dressed and he was all tucked in , he seemed quite satisfied. If only we had all this for your mother, he said. Maybe it would have helped her.

The kids make it better. So much better. Like Grandpa, they naturally think, What comes next? They keep on moving. It’s in their DNA. Tomorrow will be better.

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About reneetamara

Writing about death, mental illness, spirituality, art and perfume. Because beauty feeds the soul, and love is beyond what we think.

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