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September 5, 2014

We grow up commemorating the birthdays of those we love, the number of years they’ve been a presence in the world. At some point, we start counting, deliberately or not, the number of years they’ve been absent from the world and our lives. This absence has a form. It’s discernible around the edges where our loved ones intersected with us, the momentary vertigo of space where you expected a step. Arundhati Roy’s person-shaped holes in the universe. These absences acquire age as well as form, and they live with us for a time. Or maybe the rest of our lives. Dad’s absence is two years old.

My mother and I talk about the last day, about how it could have been different had we known, and concluding, as we have many times before, that it was the best it could have been. Just a few days after his son and daughter-in-law spent a long weekend with him, his granddaughter doing somersaults in front of his chair to keep him entertained, even the dog resting by his side, knowing, in the way that dogs do. And then, sitting beside my mother in a quiet house, he drifted to sleep, and then into something deeper. Free at last from ALS. Spared from submitting to strangers under home hospice care. We had been saying our goodbyes for months. It was okay to let go.

Mom and I, and those who loved him, will continue to celebrate his entry stamp on February 23, and mourn his exit stamp on September 5. And we’ll do our best to cherish the memory of his presence.

From → Legit Journal

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