Wednesday, April 08, 2009

No One Knows

Last night, sitting in the hot tub with my mother, both of us naked and one of us more wrinkled than the other, one of us sipping on some sweet plum drink that one of neighboring rabbi's, a man who never comes without some new brew he's concocted--last week it was a fig tincture, this week plum with brandy--both seriously strong. Sitting in the hot water in the dark after an early evening rain, I said, "this waiting is like staring at the sky searching for signs of the coming storm. We know it's on it's way, we know it's coming, but no one knows when."

We've written the obituary, the eulogy is on its way, the little thank you cards for thinking of us have been ordered, the casket, the papers signed. We've even discussed what we'll wear and whether dad will be naked with a simple wrap or whether he'll wear his favorite sweatshirt--stained and well loved as it is.

This waiting, it's not that we're in a rush--no, we love holding his warm hand, the squeeze of it, his strength in the face of death--it's a joy to be able to walk into his room every morning and chirp, "hi dad!" simply because you can--lucky you.

But the waiting is strange-- all of us, especially dad, packing the bags for a journey we know he'll take, but we don't know when.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

patch of earth

He always said he wanted to be cremated. Never was sentimental or romantic about the big burial. But then a couple of weeks ago my mom turned to him and said, "I want to be buried next to you. Do you want to be buried next to me?" And he turned to her and smiled and nodded yes. I wish I could convey the importance of this simple exchange, these plans made around a patch of earth. Mostly it's about how my parent's love has caught fire in the last 6 months since my dad has been sick. It's the way he asks where she is when she's out of the room. It's how he opens his eyes when he hears her voice, how he reaches out to her when she comes around to his side of the bed. It's the way today, when the six of us were gathered around that bed talking to my father about whether he thought he could handle one more hit of chemo or whether he was ready to let was the way he turned to my mother and they just looked at each other for the longest time.


I don't think we want it to rain, though the weather is changing down here in L.A. The skies, while still blue, have patches of white and gray as well. It's not just the Sunday hunt for the little kids that might be spoiled, their disappointment for having to do it inside the house, but it's my dad and everything that has already fallen around here.

It's how he's stopped speaking to us because it's too much work, because it only comes out in a whisper, because there's nothing more to say. "Are you in pain?" we ask, "On a scale of 1-10
is it a 5?" we'll prod. "Are you hungry dad? Should we turn on the ball game, listen to some music?"

They say that the dying begin a retreat from everything that is life. "What's the point?" they think. They won't be a part of it anyway.

Rain, rain go away, come again another day.