My dad is dying. He’s been in hospice for a few weeks now and I feel alone and helpless. I live far away and cannot be there to hold his hand — I feel at once close to him and far, far away. In two days it will also be the ninth anniversary of my mother’s death, and I think, though he will not say it, that this must weigh on him.
I don’t want to see my dad wither away, bit by bit, as if pieces are cut from him — first his body and now it seems possibly some aspects of his mind as well. I wish he would die neatly, elegantly, although I know this is never the case: that death is messy because life is messy.
I wish too, somehow, though this might make it harder, that we were closer. My mother died suddenly, abruptly; I only learned of her death from a close friend at the time. She never told me she was dying. I didn’t cry when she died and I cannot honestly say I’ve ever missed her. I’ve never grieved; I’m not sure why.
I can’t say that I’m super close to my father either — is it something about men not sharing their deepest hearts; I don’t know. But we have talked much more in the years since my mother’s death — even if it was just talk about friends, or visitors, or the news, or even what he saw out his window.
I am an only child and part of what scares me is that the history of my life with my parents will disappear. For so long, until I married, it was just the three of us — or rather the two of them and me. They were a kind of link that joined me to the outside world and kept me from utter loneliness. To have them both gone makes me wonder about my own past with them. Did all those moments really happen? I have no sibling or even friend to validate much of that history. I know that I am real because I can feel my body, but I’m not sure how I got here.
I will be turning 60 this year. I find writing that number strange. Age and death are pulling on me too, and I worry I will end up like my father — who these days largely sits alone in his apartment it seems and watches TV, while the scythe of time hacks away at both body and mind and there is nothing, nothing to be done about this.