IRL Deathbed


The problem with being from a Nordic family is that
no one ever expresses any emotions.

So when something happens
and all the men in your family sob for the first time
it feels like every molecule in your body is breaking.
Or bursting.
Or trying to escape the confines of your skin.

The problem is they will try to be strong for you.
When you just want them to be okay
with feeling weak.

One of the last things my grandfather said to my grandmother,
his wife of 58 years,
as he sat bewildered
at side on her deathbed,
is that she had a bandaid on her finger and he couldn’t recall why.
And never would.

When the actual dying started the room cleared out a bit.
Some of us stayed to keep her company.
Some of us took to the hall out of some sense of decency.
Each felt a sense of pride in their decision.
Mine as a person who broke easily, but never completely.

When my grandmother laid dying
the chaplain prayed a prayer that I, born and raised, in the church
had never heard
or paid attention to.

May death come as easily as nightfall.

Later, when I turned from her body gasping for breath
the sun had set.
Night had come easily. And without me noticing it.