There Is No Right Way To Watch A Parent Die

Brandy Eve Allen
Brandy Eve Allen

When your parent is dying, nothing makes sense. There is no right and there is no wrong, there are barely even shades of grey in between. When it is happening slowly, you might even forget they are dying.

I forgot my father was dying, as fucked up and far fetched as that sounds. It had all happened so quickly and then he stabilized. Life went back to normal. He was dying, sure. But it wasn’t happening right away anymore. So I forgot. I forgot that he was dying and that his body would slowly, but surely, shut down. I forgot that every conversation could be the last. I forgot and began screening his calls again. I forgot that I should be grasping at every opportunity to speak to him – to hear him while I could. Wasn’t this the time I should be spending asking him all the important questions?

I forgot until his kidneys and liver started to fail suddenly. I forgot and then I wasn’t sure what to do. I had wasted months, days, and hours and precious seconds. What could I do? How could I get them back? How could I escape this abhorrent person I had become? But the truth is, there was nothing and there is nothing to be done.

Run a bath. Run a bath so hot that it burns you skin. Fill it with so many bubbles they look like heaven. Those could be the clouds your parent will be sitting on soon. Get in the water and be in heaven with them. Forget that underneath the clouds there is water so hot it burns like hell. Sit. Let your skin become red and raw. Play with the bubbles. Make a bubble beard while below the surface your skin screams in protest.

Eat ice cream for dinner and laugh when you realize that the last text you sent your dying parent was “what colour is your urine today?”. That could be the last text you ever send them. Laugh. Revel in the laughter.

Hate them. Hate them so much for destroying their body and leaving you.

Realize you are watching them die twice. Once right now, and once when it finally happens. When their last breath rattles from their lungs. Realize you cannot fucking wait to hear the death rattle because then it will be over. It will all be over someday.

Love them. Love them so much you want them to hold on until they are nothing but skin and bone. Love them so much that their skeletal form is better than them achieving peace at last. Forbid them from leaving you.

Scrub your skin in a scalding shower. Wash the scent of death off of you. Wash the fact that you are the girl with the slowly dying father right off of your skin.

Laugh about the fact that your parent doesn’t know where they are half the time because there are so many toxins in their brain. Laugh and call them an idiot silently. It’s okay. They will still love you.

And most importantly, no matter what you chose, how your grief shows itself, remember that there is no right and there is no wrong. Still love yourself even if with their last breath you hated them. Still love yourself even if with their last breath you were begging them to stay. Still love yourself, because there are no rules to this. Still love yourself, because you will be all that is left after. TC mark

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  • http://dan4kent.wordpress.com dan4kent

    “Love yourself”. Tall order sometimes when all my focus was ‘on them’. But without them, there was no ‘me’. Then mom left (8 years ago this week) and all that was left was me. But those around me made it ‘we’ and now I can remember the good stuff. Pardon the wandering thought, but you made me think. I really appreciated your deft touch while you let us in on your stream of consciousness. We really are all in this together. Really well put.
    Dan in Chicago.

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