Don’t cry when he dies.
Get a phone call that the inevitable has finally happened and forget how to breathe. Wonder if your lungs will ever be the same, if deflating feels like this. Cough and choke on air like it’s somehow gone down the wrong way, an incorrect pipe. Notice your entire body shaking, slightly. Barely visible at first, then harder. More violently. Dig your fingernails straight into your chest, like you have to free your heart from its cage or it will break beyond repair.
Like if you don’t rip out all your organs before they see, you will be just one more thing flatlining.
But don’t cry.
Tell Mom you don’t want to go inside the house yet. If you don’t go inside, you won’t see him. You won’t see the finality. The body. The team of people lifting him into a bag. Strangers you’ve never met touching him.
Isabelle is barking in the master bedroom because she knows he is being taken away. She has not left his side since he came home from the hospital and bites whenever people come too close. All 8 pounds of her, ready to draw blood if they even try. You can hear her going nuts, begging someone to let her out so she can save him.
Everyone is touching him and Isabelle is locked away, and he can’t tell them to stop. You imagine opening the door and Isabelle leaping into his arms, the jolt he needs to open his eyes again.
That’s my girl, that’s my girl.
And then, it’s done. The bed sits empty with fresh indents still waiting for someone to return. You rush to your room. Mom hangs in the doorway, an apparition barely tethered to the ground. Avoid looking her directly in the eyes, they are swollen and burgundy from her physical grief. If you don’t look at things, they aren’t really there. This is a statement you’ve tricked yourself into believing. Walk around with eyes looking down and it won’t be so bad.
Just don’t look at that stuff. That’s how you’ll keep from crying. Just don’t look. Don’t accept. Don’t admit.
Refuse to let yourself feel a thing.