The Other Side

11:00 a.m.

Ariel – please call.

Stomach settles sinks

The deep despair

Ring

Ring

Ring

Ring

Hello

Hello

My mother cries

It is his time to move onward

 

12:00 p.m.

Do I stay do I go

I’m wet with grief

Those who leave us

For the other side

Must be on their journey

And we are here

Not comprehending

Not understanding

On our side

The journey

Transitioning between worlds

Not fully here

Not fully there

 

1:00 p.m.

Guzzling maple syrup straight from the bottle

Waiting for news

Watching Friends

And then the stupid episode with Phoebe’s grandma dying comes on

And I cry some more more more

Do I stay do I go

Tick tock tick tock

Wait wait wait

Wait

 

2:00 p.m.

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

Do not resuscitate

 

3:00 p.m.

Hazelnuts and potatoes

Do I stay do I go

Potato

Potato

And I sit and think

Think

Think

Think

About how he used to let me come into his bed

When I had scary dreams

And hold me close

The smell of his scratchy sweater vests

He may have some more time to live

Maybe not

It’s my choice

Do I stay do I go

Think

 

4:00 p.m.

My mom tells me she is going to sleep in his hospital room with him

Alone

I haul ass off the couch

Brushing crumbs as I go

Leave it all

Go

Go

Go

 

5:00 p.m.

More junk food

At the train station

I buy a trashy novel

I marvel at life swirling around me

People who are living

Breathe in

Breathe out

No one knows

An old man is dying

So I eat and read

Eat and read

Eat and read

 

6:00 p.m.

The journey feels short

And I’m numb

With grief

And guilt

Why am I trashing my body

Why can’t I be a perfect embodiment of grief

Suffering nobly

Perhaps with a side salad

And I should have brought my violin

 

7:00 p.m.

There is no right way to do this

I can show up imperfectly me

There is no perfect grief

 

8:00 p.m.

Blurry

Swirly

Wet grief

 

9:00 p.m.

Can’t this all just be over

How much longer do we have to wait

In limbo

Wondering

Repressing the ultimate release of grief

 

10:00

He lies in a hospital bed

Dwarfed by a mountain of blankets

So small

So gentle

My breath catches like a bird in my chest

There is so much to say

And no time to do it justice

So we say we love each other

He says goodbye

Goodbye

Goodbye

Goodbye

 

11:00 p.m.  

I hold my mother and we talk

His lungs are collapsing

He is dying

Not tonight

But soon

Soon

Soon

Wait

Wait

Tick

Tock

Tick

Tock

Sleep

On cold hard hospital chairs

They told us he will be alone if we leave

So we stay

Bundles of flesh and nerve and heart who need each other

Because love

 

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick

 

4:00 a.m.

HELLO?

HELLO?

HELLO?

Grandpa it’s me

Do you know who I am

HELLO?

HELLO?

HELLO?

He stares without seeing

Calling into the night

Searching for something

Anything

Relief

Torn between two worlds

Not belonging yet in either one

Past or Future

Physical or Spiritual

He flits

Floats

HELLO?

HELLO?

HELLO?

 

5:00 a.m.

Jolt

Awake

His chest heaving

Staring at me

Unseeing

Getting out of bed

GET HELP

GRANDPA STAY IN BED

DO NOT GET UP

HELP

MY GRANDPA TOOK OFF HIS OXYGEN MASK

HELP

HELP

Rushing back

IM CONFUSED

WHERE AM I

Shhhhh

Shhhh

Shh

Sh

Sleep

 

Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock Tick Tock

 

Time

Passes

He tries to get up

For a dinner party

To go fight in the war

He just wants to brush his teeth

The end is so near

So close we can taste it

We’ve come to talk to you about release

About discharge

Here is a draft obituary

I’M IN A STRANGE LAND

I’M IN A STRANGE LAND

Neither here nor there

Body failing

Spirit soaring

Float

High high high

Above the clouds

For one moment

I take his hand

And he sees me

And he smiles

And I smile

And we cry, us bundles of flesh and nerve and heart who need each other

Because love

It’s ok to go to the other side.

Whenever you’re ready.