remembering that call at 1:40 a.m., so delirious
from the news we granted ourselves another hour
of rest, a sleep so layered, opaque without dreams,
interrupted starkly by the shock of death.
The other nights left us speechless, floundering
around for solutions, someone to bathe you, clean the place,
prepare a meal, give you strength when you were so weak,
weave a good and convincing tale to take the path of least
We never had a chance to make the cholent or pancakes,
never got the wheelchair to break the isolation,
never found a way to bring you peace,
never saw the look on your face when you arrived at Maimonides.
That 2:30 ring tone, the cell phone upside down, when we kept saying, hello, hello, hello… When turned right side up, it was no, no, no, this can’t be… You were eating yogurt for godsakes, waiting to be moved to a room upstairs.
Now our eyes are transfixed on your wooden urn, our hearts distended,
our minds whirring mechanistically trying to put it all together, trying to make some sense of it. Oh dear father, why did you have to leave just when we were getting started? Just when our love was so big we couldn’t contain it.
Not to worry, mother is here to take our minds off of you, to love in a new and different way, to show us an unfamiliar world through gesture, comment, movement, an empty pill box at 11 a.m. Sometimes she isn’t home when we get there, sometimes she is but forgets we are coming and sometimes she is pacing the hall waiting for us after we have left. We just take her hand and draw her close, put our arms around her, let her know that sometimes memory is there to forget. Sometimes it is best not to remember.