In Its Jaws

Just last night I went to bed thinking, At least the grief has eased some. It’s six months since Mam died and almost three months since Dad died. The grief is less sharp now, less like it has me in its jaws. Yet this morning I’m hit with a fresh wave of pain and feel caught all over again between grief’s teeth.

I think of my parents every day, my Dad especially. Dad’s death is still shocking to me: How soon he died after Mam. How much more living he had to do. How horribly wrong his surgery went. How slowly and terribly he died over those six weeks.

I’m still asking empty rooms how is it better to allow someone starve and thirst to death over four weeks, as Dad did, than it is to give him or her a lethal injection? How is it humane to allow someone waste away over five years dependent on complete 24/7 care and emptied of everything except body, as my Alzheimeric mother did?

I return to Ireland in December to teach a writing workshop in Lismore Castle. It is hitting me now how hard the return will be. No Dad to answer the door to my Dublin home and hug me. No mother to visit, to stroke her hair and face and hold her warm hand. Dad’s beloved back garden gone–its maintenance too much for my sister and paving put in instead. Two roommates now living in our parents’ home with my sister, to help pay the mortgage and bills, so all sense of home gone. The first return to my parents’ grave since I helped my brothers and sisters lower Dad’s coffin in on top of Mam’s. To see both my parents’ names on the temporary wooden cross.

Doing all that will be so much harder than it would have been to give permission, when all hope was gone, to inject both my parents with a lethal concoction and to let them go with dignity and in peace.

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