I haven’t been breathing tonight at my dad’s bedside, so I dug up the very first monthly prompt from Megan at Refuge in Grief around Mary Oliver’s poem “When Death Comes.”
“and I think of each life as a flower, as common as a field daisy, and as singular,
“and each name a comfortable music on the mouth, tending, as all music does, toward silence,
“and each body a lion of courage, and something precious to the earth”
Tonight, Dad, breathing has been difficult for both of us. So I’m doing my thing and writing into the grief.
“each name a comfortable music in the mouth tending...toward silence”
Rooster Juice playing you out of this life as your eyebrows and legs start dancing.
I can’t get “Bottle of Whiskey” out of my head these days, so I’ve just got it on repeat in here. It’s a really good fucking song.
“comfortable music...tending...toward silence”
There is nothing comfortable in here tonight. You are making quite the racket as you go. I know this isn’t how you wanted things to end.
So many people who know and love you that I’ve met in random places over the years. that have called and messaged me in these final weeks. that have stopped here to say they love you.
It’s always weird for me. I’m socially awkward and have no skill for small talk. They say how much they love you and how you always talk about us—Sunshine, your grandkids, me—and it’s not that I don’t know. It just makes it even more awkward. Most of the time the unsaid hangs over us: You don’t know us the way you could. should.
Because you’re a bottle of fucking whiskey.
Dying in a hospital bed.
It really fucking sucks—
People keep sharing pictures of young Gregg and Dawn.
But you’re unrecognizable. Young Gregg. Healthy, beautiful young man.
But I didn’t ever get to see that.
I saw the bottle of fucking whiskey
Bottle of whiskey—
Now I keep staring at the half full container of your secretions hanging above your bed.
It didn’t have to end this way.
I know you would have been present for your daughters if you could have.
I know it.
I know we missed out on so much—all of us.
We’re ok, though.
We’re taken care of and loved and have more siblings and parents and each other partly because you’re a fucking bottle of whiskey.
And I’m not mad at you anymore.
I hate the fucking disease—
I’m afraid some of us you’re leaving behind will struggle with addiction.
I’m hopeful that your
will wrap around us—
protect us from the disease.
We know it’s there
We will hold one another
We will reach out for support
We will breathe.
To hear you say hug-a-buggy one more time.
That’s what I want tonight.
I love you, Daddy—