And a star to sail her by

He died on Saturday, while I was in the shower. My sister, to whom I am unbelievably close, as in "I will help you get up off the toilet if you're too drunk to stand after you pee," opened the shower door and I knew that something was wrong. Because even though we have helped each other pee, we have an unwritten rule about the holiness of shower time: you do not interrupt until well after the deep conditioner is washed out.

She opened the door and I freaked out and grabbed a bottle of shampoo to cover myself, and she looked me straight in the eye and said, "He died. He died just now. Just right now." And we stood there and the water kept on running, and I remember thinking, "Okay, so now what? Do I rinse my hair, or do I just leave it? How fast do I need to get out of here? Am I missing something?"

I rinsed and put on the first thing I found, which was pajama pants and a polo shirt that might have been my dad's. And this is where it gets really uncomfortable and sad and borderline scary, so if you want to stop reading right now I'm totally okay with it. But I have to get this out, because it's burning a hole in my chest.

I went into my grandparents' bedroom and my grandmother was standing over him, patting his face and saying, "Just wake up and talk with us, darling, just come back and tell us what you're thinking, doing such a thing. Just wake up now." And my mother was holding her shoulders and saying that he was gone, and we all knew he was gone because of the color of his skin (why did it change so fast? In the movies you get at least ten minutes of pink-cheekedness so you can cry and lament and hold hands, and the person still looks alive.) My mom got her to leave, and then it was just me and my sister, and his mouth was open and my God, I could not close it. I wanted to, because I knew that he would rather look peaceful and asleep and not all slack-jawed, but I couldn't do it, and neither could Kate. I was afraid.

After a while, the men came and took him to the funeral home, and we cried some and laughed some and drank a lot. And we realized that he really was better off - it's not just some trite saying that people give you when they're trying to sympathize. And I can breathe again, and even forget for a while. My grandmother's doing the rounds between my uncle's house and my mom's, and I promised to come see her as soon as she got home, and so life goes on.

To everybody who called and emailed and stuff, thank you for trying to help me deal. You really, really did. And to my "superb meteor," if you read this, thanks for giving me Jack London. Love you, you know, in that other way.


  1. I'm really sorry to hear about everything. Its funny that you don't know what you can actually deal with until you have to do it. And then you can do so much more than you thought you could.
    Also, drinking does help a bit. Perhaps that is why there are always strange 'parties' of some sort after funerals (or, at least there are in my family).

  2. Oh, I'm so sorry to hear. I'm glad you can find the peace in knowing he's better off.

    Much love, MB

  3. Sorry to hear about your loss. It is nice that all your family is around to help each other through it.

  4. I'm so sorry about your loss. Take the time to rejoice in your family and draw strength from each other. I will talk to you soon.

  5. I was in the house when my mother-in-love passed on. I wasn't in the room with her when she went, but after that, I was the only one who was able to face going back in the room to take care of things.

    All I can say is that I understand, and although we are strangers to each other, I offer you my love and support.