I am so filled with grief, I can’t find my way out.
A man approaches the elevator. He could be my dad’s age. It’s 7:30 pm, he has a red apple, stem down on the seat of his walker. “Are you going up?” he asks with a gentle drawl. “Yes, I am.” I smile and hold the door open. “How are you tonight?” I ask. “Huh?” He looks me in the eyes. “How are you?” I look back at his blue eyes, gentle face, and beautiful silver head of hair, all there and combed in place. I wonder how he was as a boy. Did he comb his hair like this? Where’s he from? Nearby? What did he do for work? He seems shy. “I’m ready for bed.” He says. “You have a nice apple there.” I comment as the elevator door opens on the second floor. “Yes. I don’t want to lose it.” He says and picks it up. He gestures for me to exit the elevator. I suppose the years of being a gentleman have engrained this in him. Or maybe he doesn’t want his slower pace to get in my way. I smile and say, “You go ahead. Have a good night!” “I’m going to 210.” He says softly, maybe to let me know where he lives or to remind himself. I watch him shuffle slowly, steadily. The apple safely gripped. I think of a five-year-old boy, walking down a school hallway, holding his lunch, repeating his classroom number.
I am filled with grief knowing my father is way past this stage. He still remembers his nursing room number, but he can’t hold a whole apple any longer or shuffle or stand. He has his beautiful smile and he can still formulate a good story though the sounds are stuck beyond his tongue and fight coming together. He breathes air made of taffy stronger than he can pull, and mountain lions scream in his lungs as he gasps. I hold his hand and pray for an easy passing and think of all the I love you’s and I’m sorry’s and I will miss you’s that we’ve said over and over and over again.
This part of the cycle of life I am not prepared to celebrate right now. I sit still, very still, hear the wind threat and moan. The thunder cracks my heart and I cry with the storm as the immense loss drags slowly towards me. The impending devour looms, and I sit still, so filled with grief, I can’t find my way out.