by Chris de Serres
I see the texts on my phone. One stream is from my mother. She is rapid and seemingly without focus. A rattling off of events in real time, as she is experiencing them. I read it like a code, trying to decipher what is happening. Is he dying in a month or a week? Did the doctor say he had 2 days or 2 weeks? I can’t figure it out when pushed through her jaundiced filter.
She keeps asking me to come see him. It doesn’t matter if I work or if I have a child to protect from this. She is like a bright homing beacon, perpetually turning, beckoning me to come. Every day if I would. If I don’t come then she uses guilt. Swings it at me. At my brother.
My father is a good man. That’s what most believe. I have reason to hate him. To want him to die. To ignore him.
I saw his frail, emaciated body turned sideways on his bed. There was dried vomit on his gown. It led into a blue bag. His stomach bulged, filled with fluid his diseased liver refused to filter. His face was shriveled over his skull. Eye sockets sunken in. Both arms were painted in purple and brown bruises. Four bags of medication were pumping into his system. Keeping him alive.
There comes a point in our lives when mom and dad are here, then they aren’t. I don’t know that experience will change me. When the conduit closes forever. Death is hard. I find it hard to stay here in my present moment. I wonder what am I doing? Dealing with this or waiting or numbing myself into non-existence?
I am looking for a hiding place. From all the beckoning. In my dream I ask mom, “Do you know why I don’t want to come? Do you know about dad? Would you ask me to be there if I told you?”
I was vulnerable once.