Just Saying

What I felt in each instance [when her parents died] was…regret for time gone by, for things unsaid, for my inability to share or even in any real way to acknowledge, at the end, the pain and helplessness and humiliation they each endured.

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking

How easy
it came to us—why
doesn’t Dad
just [insert
action here]: call the doctor,
or get off his butt

and go up
and sit with Mom, or
say something,
or agree
to wearing Depends. Perhaps
it depends on who

is doing
the asking and who
the doing.
This saying
is also true: you don’t know
until you’ve been tried.

The one-year anniversary of my dad’s death is coming up this Monday. He was (not) dealing with his own cancer throughout my mom’s time on hospice. Peace to our s!

True Story

Not a yarn:
that my Grandma Boos
taught me how
to crochet.
Yarn: the many, many skeins
of my mom’s, now mine,

coasters and afghans
to brighten
others’ days,
tangible love handed down
three generations.

My mom’s acrylic yarn is what I’m using to crochet small afghans for Project Linus, which distributes new handmade blankets to children in need (for example, in hospitals). I’m fortunate that there are Project Linus drop-off boxes in the JOANN fabric stores in my area. For the coasters, I’m using up her 100% cotton yarn, which can take the heat of a hot mug. There’s enough yarn for at least 200 coasters–it brightens my days, too, to be able to give them away. Peace to your !

my sunshine coaster pattern here

Dad’s Decline / In One Word…

Two poems capturing some of the experience of my Dad’s death. Peace to our s!

Dad’s Decline

He went from walking unaided 
    to walker to hospital bed.
Bypassed the disposable underwear, 
    moved straight into diapers.
In one week! Like a prodigy 
    in the art of dying.

In One Word, How Would You Describe
that Last Week with Your Dad?

At the time—
challenging, wearing.
brutal. Yes.
It’s a strong, visceral word.
No more questions, please.

Upstairs, Downstairs

Upstairs, Mom.
She’s stuck in her room.
Dad’s downstairs,
free to roam
the house, though he mostly sits
on the couch and sleeps.

I go up.
Mom’s in bed, watching
a game show.
We both think
the host looks better in blue.
I guess some answers.

I head down,
ask Dad if he needs
more soda.
No, he needs
a big pain pill. “I don’t know,”
he says. A refrain.

I go up
to give Mom her lunch.
It’s okay
if I leave.
Dad needs the company more
than she does. She says.

I head down,
scrounge lunch while Dad broods
on the couch,
eating squat.
He still doesn’t know. Neither
do I. So I smile.

It’s better
than frowning, I hope,
though it’s not
how I go up and head down,
torn between the two.

NaPoWriMo22 Day 14 — Today would have been my Dad’s 83rd birthday, the first since he died in January, seven weeks after my mom’s death. I’m still processing, and writing poems to capture different aspects of the experience. I wrote this one this morning. Peace to our s!

Notes on Healing

are a start. Warmer
weather helps.
Longer days,
lighter days, all good. But not
what I really need.

What I need
(okay, really want)
is summer,
hours and hours
steeping in the sun, healing
from the outside in.

Then I think:
skin cancer, rogue moles,
sun damage.
Then I write
shadormas, sijos—healing
from the inside out.

NaPoWriMo22 Day 4 — A poem I’ve been pondering several weeks that finally came into its own as a series of shadormas. It happens to fit murisopsis‘s poetry scavenger hunt prompt #12, to write about healing. I now have 18 poems written in the wake of my parents’ deaths (see “Afterdeath“) and will post more of them once NaPoWriMo is over. I’m calling it my Afterdeath collection. Peace to your , particularly if you’re healing from the loss of a loved one or dealing with cancer personally or among family or friends.