When I wake

By Michelle Dee | Sep 12, 2010
Photo by: Lynda Clancy

When I wake in the middle of the night like I did the night before last, I tend to think someone has died. Someone, somewhere.

My father once told me about a night when he awoke suddenly, startled. He was away at college; it was 1:50 in the morning. He slipped back into his slumber only to be rousted again for some unknown reason. This time the clock said 4:15 a.m.

Later that morning, he would come to know that his father, many miles away, had died of a heart attack. Two heart attacks, actually. One around 2 a.m. and the other around 4 a.m.

For me now, that someone, somewhere, is no longer my father. He's long dead of his own heart attack. Not in bed, at home, while wearing his flannel pajamas. But at work, in a meeting with his boss while he wore a tie, dress shirt and pants. He was laughing at his own joke when his heart seized, surrendered.

And so, my father died laughing. His boss told me at the wake that when my father fell to the floor that day, he figured it to be part of the joke he'd been telling. That made sense to me because I knew my father well, and laughter and slapstick would naturally be a part of how he went out.

I hoped for a long time that that someone, somewhere, would be my mother. When I wake in the middle of the night like I did the night before last, I whisper to myself, "Is it her?" Go, Mom. Go mend your heart and soul in the silent, loving light.

I am many miles away from her, and I have been for so long. She is a stranger to me much the same way my father's father was to him. Our only connection being DNA, and history, of course.

On some level, I can't help but to imagine her going up in flames as the only fitting finale to such a tragic, angry life. I do, however, hope for a simple, sleep-time expiration. She's been through enough, put others through even more, and she deserves a gentle exit.

Death doesn't scare me. It never has. I feel bad for those who fear it. I find death to be a warm, loving, light-filled space that awaits me, where my father waits for me. Years ago, I wanted to go there just to see him one last time, but I didn't know how to get there, so I stayed put.




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