You failed a swallow test today.
I was proud of Mom when she refused a feeding tube. I remember when she asked my sister, the nurse, if she should allow the tube a few months back.
“Do you want to prolong his life?”
Monday you’ll go to hospice and we’ll wait for your organs to fail.
Monday you’ll go to hospice and we’ll wait for you to starve to death. We won’t say “starve to death” because it hurts to say and to hear and to know that that was the last real decision you made…back when you could still make decisions.
Monday I’ll go to work and finish prepping your Medicaid application. There is a hearing for you next week and I’ll need to speak to the caseworker and finish scanning five packages worth of documents from Chase and talk to the annuity company and get a status on a letter I faxed and hope that the Office of the Inspector General will just pay the fucking money before you die and I have to ask them what to do when a stalled Medicaid appeal is in progress and the applying party dies.
Monday night I’ll go to an open mic after work because I don’t want to be alone in the house. I’ll go alone to a bar and order Diet Cokes and force some laughs when someone I like is trying hard. Maybe I’ll actually laugh at something. Maybe I’ll tell jokes about you.
Monday night I’ll come home and get high and look at stupid videos on the internet and I won’t think about you. I’ll repeat this until you die.
When you die there won’t be a funeral. You wanted to donate your body. When you die they’ll take you to the funeral home on North Ave. — the one next to that bar where the little league coaches would draft teams every year, next to the White Hen that became a 7–11 when all the White Hens got bought after I left for college. That nursing home where they had Corey’s wake. You’ll go there, then to one of the medical colleges downtown. After two years we can have the ashes.
“If we want them,” she said.
You remember Corey right? My first childhood best friend — lived two houses away? You didn’t like him very much. You were still healthy enough to go to his wake. Do you remember that? I think you hugged his mom. She moved away a few years ago. One time when you got lost walking the dog she helped Mom look for you. They should have been better friends, she and Mom.
Tuesday I’ll repeat Monday. Wednesday I’ll repeat Tuesday. On and on and on and on and on and on until you die.
When you die I’ll take some time off work. I’ll try to take care of Mom and see what my sisters want me to do. I’ll wonder how long to wait to tell them I don’t want to live here anymore. That I haven’t wanted to live here for years. I’ll probably wait for that.
I’ll wonder how to tell my friends.
“He’s dead, we did it!”
Maybe I’ll joke because I like the dark jokes about you. (I really really like the jokes about you.)
Maybe I’ll be serious for a minute and then joke later. (You will have starved to death.)
Maybe I’ll write another piece like this…another reach where I tell everyone who’ll take the time that this is who I am because this is what I’m going through and I want, so desperately, to make sure that they know that I’m trying so fucking hard and I don’t know what else to try or what else to say to them and that I know it’s awful to listen to, I know it I know it, and I know they’ve been so great and they listen and they try hard and they make jokes about what dead celebrity died and why couldn’t it have been my dad because they know I’ll laugh and I need it and I love them. I’ll write and write and write and scale it back and show them exactly what I think is worth reading and I’ll hope that they'll like it because for fuck’s sake let me have something from this that’s worth having.
Then I’ll go back to work. Then I’ll go back to the open mics. Then I’ll go back to the shows. Then I’ll go back home.
You’ll be dead and I’ll be wondering what to do without the weight.