That’s what it is. It’s that I lost him. It’s that I saw him, leaving---in the act of leaving---AS he was leaving, and I ran into the room and I threw my body across him.
Don’t leave don’t leave don’t leave. Don’t leave me.
His eyes are not his now. I see that he is not in this room with me. With us.
“Is he dying? Is he dying?” we ask the hospice nurse.
I want him to know how much I love him. I want him to know that he was a good father.
The best father. The finest father who showed me how to be. How to overcome struggle. He had this way about him. He had this simple grounded way of being.
“You were always my metronome,” I tell him, “I will always strive to be more like you.”
Above all. Above everything and all of this---I do not want him to go. But my sister and I tell him that it’s okay for him to leave. I think we’ve read this somewhere or we just know it in our bones like how you know it is not polite to pry.
Maybe he will be able to breathe freely now. Big, wide open breaths from the bottom of his belly. And lots of walking.
We’re still worried he will be lost without us.
I know I’ll be lost without him. My fan club. My advocate. That face with those sweet eyes. I will miss the way he looked at me. Proud. Loyal.
His view of me is what I clung to.
But in this moment I am the one to hold onto his delicate hand and whisper to him that he was the best and that he is my hero and such good company and that I hope he knows that.
I mix tenses in the midst of death.
Mostly I know I don’t want him to go. Mostly I know I will never recover even though I know he will want me to, I won’t.
I’ll stay here, terrified, with my sister. We will usher him out knowing there will now just be two of us. Two of what was once three. It is this thought that we will spend the rest of our lives processing.
Mostly I want him to know that I will always wonder what he was thinking as he left. Did he know it was the three of us together in those last moments? Did he know that we rallied around him to hold his hand and tell him we loved him and make sure his pillow was placed just right? Did he feel our presence and our love? Did he understand that we would never be the same without him?
Maybe this is why I chase beauty. Maybe this is why I long for a glimpse of that beach or sky or bird or smile or shadow or moon that envelopes me and takes me to that particular place that is equal parts beauty and equal parts pain.
He told me once that to see the world in a way that does it justice is to be thin skinned because that is the only way that all of it can get through. And as it does get through, even though it feels amazing, it feels simply awful all at the same time.
Here's to all the thin skinned ones. Here's to the scary beauty, everywhere making us shake in our bones and reminding us of everything we've ever known.
You say boo-hoo like it's a bad thing,
Big Mama Maudlin