When I Watched You Die
We're obsessed with fitting the intricacies of our lives into the literary molds we learned in middle school. Our lives are cyclical, they follow an arc. That's what I was thinking when I fed you the last chocolate muffin. I leaned over you and watched you chew horizontally with your eyes closed. You sucked out the flavor and pulled at the chocolate chips with the inside of your cheeks. "Is that good?" I squeezed your hand - bone and tissue paper. "Does the muffin taste good?" You nodded and I pressed the straw between your cracked lips. Milk slipped out the corners of your mouth and fell away. "You want more?"
I wanted to ask what was happening, What happens while you're waiting to die?
Our memories of death betray themselves. I remember what I felt like at that exact moment - my breathing fucked up like a bike chain caught off gear, my eyes broke. The rest is wrong. My memories are misinterpretations, complex metaphors without profound meaning. They are dead ends.
When I look back on that day, it's in garish Technicolor. The car that took you away was parked on a camel-hair gravel road and all the grass was lime green. But it was March and it was foggy; there was still snow on the ground. The colors are wrong but the rest is right - in the seconds after you were gone, your dog cried and panted and ran from room to room looking for you. She dug into your discarded robe and twisted her long body inside and through it until the robe was wrapped all around her, wondering how a person could disappear. The nurse collected your thousands of medication and dumped them all into a large Ziploc bag. She poured out vials of blue Percoset with vials of yellow Ativan and squeezed a tube of vasoline into the mix, kneading it together so that the colors bled and half melted pills clung to the side of the bag. She asked me to sign a legal document as official witness of the destruction. I wrote my name at more of a slant that I usually do, I didn't dot the i. I remember everything but your death.
There are no prophetic last words. There is no final twist. I waited for catharsis by your bed before and after I carried you out of it.
It's strange where I've stored my emotion, disproportionate as nerve-endings. I wear the final times you told me you love me like scars. I don't re-read the last letter you wrote me because by that time I was already convinced that you were gone. I was wondering what I could do to make you comfortable and how I could make myself understand. Once you know it's over, the end all you can think about. So, I keep going back to a few days before you died. You were lost in a dream. You told me you were on a train going west, you were going somewhere nice. And I remember it so specifically because it made sense more than anything else that did or didn't happen - You went away. And I'm still here.