Four in the morning and it’s probably the most peaceful the house has been in days. I haven’t had much sleep in the last few days. Since Thursday it’s felt like time is standing still at a hurtling pace and though that makes no sense at all, it is what the last days and hours are like. Periods of total normal puncuated by long moments that seem as though one has lived them already. Deja vu stalks me because of me – because of Will – and yet not. There are cystalline moments that belong just to this experience and just to Dad.
I am the only one awake right now which is not surprising since I was the first one to go to bed last night. Driven by the noise of all things. Between the constant hiss and rattle of the oyzgen machine and the need to flee my younger brother’s anger, my sister’s grief and my mother’s helpless resignation.
There was not so much noise when Will died. I outlasted it until it was simply he and I.
Yesterday tried my patience with my youngest siblings. BabySis is too simple-minded to process what she sees and her mental defects are jarring in the harsh light Dad’s dying has thrown on them. She has been so annoying over the last twenty-five years that I was able to skip over the fact that she is borderline mentally disabled. Functional but vulnerable. And I want to be able to feel some for her but I just want to put distance between us. I am tired of her neediness and for once happy that LawnMower Man came back into her life because he seems genuinely concerned and protective of her.
I haven’t seen LawnMower Man in over twenty years. Not since right before he knocked her up and then split for the West Coast. He is a tiny man. Skin so tight that he looks plastic. HIs clothes seemed painted on. He had Ken doll hair. Molded to his head and lips that seem stretched too tight.
“He looks like an old lesbian,” I told Rob who didn’t disagree and probably shouldn’t have laughed but his own siblings look like trailer park inhabitants too, so he knows exactly what I mean.
And then there is CB. He was drunk most of Friday to varying degrees. There is irony. He more than any of us suffered most from Dad’s drinking and hated its effects on the family unit, yet there he was at 3:30 in the morning, hammered, sitting watch.
“He is very vulnerable,” Mom kept telling us.
And he is but I don’t care right now. Perhaps I will again at some point this week, but last night I gave in to my body’s need to sleep to get away from the rage that radiates off him.
Whatever lie I have to tell him to get him back on a plane for Tahoe will be told. He isn’t staying here with my mom.
DNOS is alternates between in charge and distraught. She wishes us gone as much as she wished us here. She doesn’t like having to share her dad with the rest of us in his final hours.
At one point last evening, when Dad was caught in a cycle of coughing, trying to swim free of the mucous that is swamping his lungs, she ordered us all out of the room.
“It’s been just the three of us all along and it should end with just the three of us,” she said through the tears.
I forced CB, BabySis and Nephew out of the room. I silenced their indignation with the force of my will – which is considerable – and allowed DNOS, Mom and Dad to be alone. I remember clearly my own mute frustration at the end of Will’s last weekend when all the family and friends, who’d basically forgotten about him and us, came scurrying to the hospice. Despite the fact that it had been just he, BabyD and I for nearly three years, they laid claims based on longevity that had nothing to do with love as I know it. So I cleared the room for my sister and kept it cleared the rest of the night.
He’s still alive. Gurgling and surprisingly warm. I laid my hand on his chest and felt the heart pumping too hard. Death rattling in his chest and throat. How many times did I listen to someone in their last hours as I walked the hallway to Will’s hospice room? Even BabyD could recognize the sound by the end of his long stay.
“That person is going to die tonight, right Mom?” she would say as we walked past and heard the wet breath.
I wish Dad would just die. I wished the same thing about Will at that time nearly three years ago now. There comes a time when it is past time.