Thursday, January 05, 2006

my black ass still in new york

uncle died. wednesday, december 28 at 11 a.m. the attendant called me into the room because she wasn't sure if he was still breathing. she said she just heard him take a deep breath and then there was silence. i looked over to the bed where he was laying and just stared.


no labored breathing.
no moans from deep in the chest.
no restless movements from limbs emaciated from the scurge of cancer.

just silence.

i walked over to his bedside and just absorbed the form laying still on the bed. his stomach was deeply concave, bringing into stark relief the distended ripple of his ribcage. i placed my hand on his chest. it was cold, the skin scaley from a combination of age and radiation therapy. i leaned in closer, my ears starving for some proof that he was still here.


no strained inhalation from his parted lips.
no rising in the area of his stomach.
no clenching of hands as he exhaled and the pain of the action forcing him to sieze up in an attempt to brace himself so he could make it to the next breath.

i called in my brother and he repeated what i did. after he shook his head, i walked out into the living room where my granny was sitting, sorting through my uncle's papers. she looked at me and suddenly stood up, almost as if she too had noticed how quiet it had become. i tried to delay her entry into the bedroom until we could figure out a way to lessen the shock, but she saw right through me. she walked around me and into the room. i looked back into the room to see her standing at the foot of the bed staring at the still form on the bed.


no anguished wail as she realized her son was dead.
no throwing things to crash against the walls or windows.
no movement of her body suddenly stiffened in grief.

she just stood there staring at the vessel that once held her son's spirit. eventually, she brought her hands to her face and her body slumpled slightly. there were no tears. i have never seen that woman cry. she just kept her face covered for a minute. then she dropped her hands and her eyes fell on my face. the level of pain i saw pooled in her eyes made me want to scream out in her despair. i wanted to be the surrogate expressing all of the anger and sadness and pain and relief and all of the other feelings she was too proud to express in front of us. instead i just walked over to her and grabbed her hands.

its violent explosion signified my uncle's leaving.
its charred remains signified our current grieving.