This idea of death has been circling my head for days. Not in a sad or depressive sort of way. Not even in a morbid anticipatory way. It has just been there. Marinating. I blame Broadchurch (good series BTW).


I stage managed a one woman show once. This woman wrote a script circling around the death of her mother. I was entranced through every line, completely hooked by the observations and twists and turns in this woman’s life with the character of her mother. She wrote a particular line that resonated with me, has stuck with me to this day. When there is a death, there are inevitable turf wars over the big stuff. What to do with the house, who gets the China, who’s had their eye on that bed/couch/secretary/piano and would slit throats to get it. “And when all of that dust has settled, someone is left with everything else. The debris.” The salt shakers. The paperclips. The underwear. The half completed crafts. The toothbrush you can’t bear to throw away. Paper napkins and drawers full of wrapping paper.


Parker died today. He lost his battle with cancer. I have no sadness, but my heart is not hardened. I immediately thought of the family. Their journey has only begun.


I’ve had a recurring nightmare. A dream that a nephew has died. The circumstances are usually the same, though the nephew is not. And in a few cases, all three of my living breathing nephews are in attendance, so this mourning is for an unknown child. The focus is not on the death, but on the family. Little is known to me about the cause. I don’t know if there was an illness, and accident, and this seems unimportant. What is important are the faces. The people we turn to in times of grief. The people we choose to share this moment of irreversible change, and the people who are chosen for us. Who are the stolid, strong and dependable? Who are the tearful, overwhelmed and broken? Who are the attention seekers, and who are silently losing their way in the maze of bodies and grief.

In my dream, my mother and I can be counted on to move people along, shuffle them through the motions and focus on the day. My sisters are emotional, allowing varying levels of sobbing to be heard or hidden. The husbands/boyfriends are dutifully at their sides, though at one point can be found gathered in a corner by the stairs, looking perplexed and out of place. My dad is organizing food. Pale faced and somber he makes his way through the crowds touching people on the shoulder or hand. Not emotional, but not organized.  My brother is playing the piano.


It is the only constant in life. It is unavoidable. It doesn’t ring up to tell you it is coming. It just appears one day. It takes you in an instant, or it hovers for months before claiming you.


Death impacts different people differently. Some turn inward, some outward. I am the face for the office today. Most can’t see through their own tears, some just don’t want to look at people for fear of what they might ask. I shoulder the responsibility of carrying on as normal, keeping secrets with a straight face and a calm demeanor. Never letting slip that something is amiss. I think I missed my calling.

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