Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It's been two years since that last week of my son's life. I've been trying not to think about it; you can imagine how that works. My nephew, who never seemed to be the empathetic type, knows how much I love kids and is driving here for the weekend so I can immerse myself in playing with my great nephew instead of mentally pacing the distance between Sloan Kettering and the 6 train again and again, praying to a god I don't even believe in for an outcome that can't be provided.

I think about the dead. That's my abstraction. My defense. To move from the loss of Jesse to the general. The rules would apply, right? If the dead aren't really dead, as Fritz once told me, what are they? Do they hear us whisper? Think? Do they finally understand and forgive? Do they want our forgiveness? Or are they truly gone? Not elsewhere, not on another plane of existence. Just gone. And would that be easier than if you had to confront them one day with your faithlessness--yes you were faithless. You had your doubts. Don't lie to the dead.

Today is the 3rd. He was already in the coma. The pressure in his brain rose and fell, measured on the monitor where you might see a heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, blood gases. 65 mm/Hg. You, your intracranial pressure is probably somewhere between a negative number and say, 10. You see what I'm saying? His head exploded. So stop using that expression as a joke. As if I have any control over what people find funny.

Sorry. It's not you, it's me.


  1. I do that too, count it down. It starts about two weeks before he died.

    We were doing this. He said that. We were at this mile-marker. We ate there. The closer to the moment he died, the more detailed my memories.

    I saved the truck log from that last month, so I can tell anyone with certainty exactly where we were at any given moment the last 25 days of his life.

    It's been 6 years, and I still record the anniversaries: first kiss; first time we made love; the day he told me he loved me; the day we moved in together; the day he proposed; the day we got married; the day he died (which, in the calendar year, actually comes about 6 weeks before the day we married).

    October is honored in our culture as Breast Awareness Month, but for October is Tom Died Month.

    I wonder if counting down ever stops. I've thought about asking. Finding someone whose loss is decades old...but I worry that my grief will worry them. That it's too sharp, and they won't understand.

  2. I've been there. My dad died at the end of March in 79. I was home alone with him, gave him CPR till the ambulance came.

    The countdown doesn't really stop, it becomes layered over by life, until you listen and then you can hear it again: the day I got the phone call, then the hospital, then he came home to die, and then the day I heard the noise in the bathroom. I try to forget the dates, but some of them just stick. January 9. March 31. I wonder what it will be like when I live more with the memory of the dead than with the living.

  3. When I was still just an LPN, I worked for awhile in a Nursing Home...

    I met folks who'd outlived everyone they they'd ever known, (including their own children). 90+ years old, and no one living shared their memories. Only the dead.

    I never wanna get that old.

  4. as an aside, i find your entries via wikifray.

    i love that they have that widget there so we can find the BOF writers we enjoy.

  5. Just wanting you to know that I'm thinking of you and of Jesse this month. Of your family and the stories you've shared. The funny stuff too.

    But this month its the mom journey. The anniversary and the journey you're still on.

    And just sending you some love.


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