Both of my parents died, for starters.
Not at once, of course, but within seven
or eight years of one another.
Daddy passed first and we watched
him die, the whole family, a vigil
in the meeting room of the nursing
home where they sent him after
a final, last ditch, unnecessary surgery
where he slept and took his last breaths.
And I remember
being angry that I had to share
those moments with so many
people, not just mom and my
siblings, but grandchildren and
the grandchildren’s children
and uncles and aunts
and it was too much.
And it was as if my mother
knew this, and planned accordingly
by refusing additional treatment,
spending her last days in the same
nursing home where Daddy died,
like Daddy, asleep and without pain,
but unlike him, with one visitor
at a time for the deathbed vigil.
I’ve said this before but it’s
worth repeating, worth repeating:
My brother, my sister, my other brother,
my uncle, and I took turns. Mommy waited
to see us all, or, waited for all of us
to see her before she let go and drifted
finally as far away as she could go.