Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Nothing Special

Watching someone die isn't like the movies - add that to the long list of things that cinema romanticizes. Death can be ugly, thrashing, coughing, noisy. Death can be sudden, uneventful, unaccompanied by the flatlining of a machine and fists upon a chest begging the person to "live, Damnit!" My grandfather's was quiet. So quiet we weren't sure exactly when it happened. I count his death as 2:37 in the morning, because that's when I saw the small blip on the monitor make the shape of a top hat, then rest. Unassuming, just as he was. "I'll just show myself out" he might have been saying.

There was a pause right after my grandfather died, just this side of awkward, where we weren't sure what to do. There's a little bit of a mental shift in that moment, when you go from surrounding your loved one to being in the room with a dead body. They wheeled out one of his roommates in order to give us privacy, and we spent a moment or two saying something to a person who was no longer there to listen. I don't remember what I said, but I must have said thank you, I must have said goodbye, I recall saying that I knew he wasn't here to hear me. I remember kissing a cheek growing colder and calling TB to let him know I'd be home soon. But the most stark thing I remember is walking out to the parking lot and seeing two people, one male, one female, illuminated by the overhead glare of the emergency doors. The man was speaking in low, hushed whispers, and then suddenly this high-pitched mechanical whine issued forth from the woman's chest as she balled up her fists against the man's shoulders and sank into a crouch. I remember saying "Wow. Someone's having a worse night than us." I said that, knowing that in a few short days we'd be burying my grandfather next to a grave that was still fresh. But my pain was dulled, an outcome I'd predicted as soon as I hung up from that late-night phone call. Hers was still brand-new and raw.

I don't know why I needed to tell that story today, but I think it has to do with my last post about perspective. Some days I feel like I'm lucky, but mostly, selfishly, I'm just relieved to know I'm not alone.


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