When we walked into the hospice that bright, blue September day we knew we would walk out changed. When we walked down the long, carpeted halls we stole unsure glances into other rooms while we looked for his. We did not want to be here, but we did not want to be anywhere else.
With a deep breath we entered his room anxious about how he might
look. But our eyes fell on Aunt Lesly. This was the first time we
had seen her in 17 years. Why does death do that? Why does death
bring to life what we had long left buried?
Our next concern was Mom. She stood as we approached and hugged us
hard. She cradled her healing arm, a new baby to which to tend. She
had already delivered her father to this place, carrying him his final weeks.
Now, her true children were with her. We felt sure she was ready.
Dad was there, too, of course. He had been right by Mom, right by us,
for as long as we could remember. Our barometer by which to gauge life's
Finally, our eyes and our hearts settled on Papa. It had been nearly a
week since we had seen him. He had been in a hospital gown then and so he
remained. It fit him loosely, but we knew he no longer cared how he
looked. We believed that he still cared dearly about who was near.
So, we sat and we waited.
The nurses came in from time to time. They always brought
relief. They might have been angels.
Once, they shifted Papa slightly to the side. That's often all we
need to get going, really. After they left, he stopped. The rattle had been released. Everyone
in the room stood, moved by the presence of absence.
We truly knew Papa had left when Dad looked at his watch. Daddy always
knows the time, the weather, the score. We expected him to drop his arm
to look at the digits on his wrist. We did not expect him to place his
strong, tan, daddy hand on Papa's pale forehead and bestow a kiss.
We had never been there before when someone had died. It was
finished. Our lives minus one had begun.
We held each other. We even hugged Aunt Lesly. We cried.
Walking out into the crisp, cleansing September evening we knew we were
closer. We knew we were closer to each other. We also knew we were
closer to doing this again.
We are seven years apart and therefore very different. We are from the
same parents and therefore very similar. We are siblings. We are
sisters. We will change, but that never will. We have, but that has
not. We live in different houses now, but we still grow up