I am drinking tea from a styrofoam cup because it is warm and comforting, and that is what I want right now. I'm in a spare white room on the sixth floor overlooking parking lots, buildings, and one lonely ball field. There is only one non-essential thing in the entire room - a MOMA print of a Van Gogh painting of a drawbridge. It hangs on the wall by the window and has faded badly, but is still relatively cheerful for that. It's a bright, sunny spring day.
We have a lot of chairs in this room. At first it is just me and my brother, and most of the chairs are empty. Kim will bring my mom after a while. Later still she will go back to the house and get the girls, and then we will need more chairs. I swipe one from a small room with a sink, and then we're good.
We are arrayed around the bed where my dad is resting. There are hyacinth flowers on the stand. My dad planted them, once upon a time, and Tabitha carried them in with her. They fill the room with fragrance.
Nurses come in and out to see how my dad is doing. Sometimes they change things. Once they bring him a quilt. But mostly they leave him alone, and the room is pretty quiet except for Norah Jones playing on Kim's iPhone. My dad always liked Norah Jones.
Words follow words. We talk among ourselves about memories, stories, arrangements, lunch. Sometimes there are jokes, because you need them on days like this. "A Roman centurion walks into a bar..." I am a creature of words, of reading and writing, and it is through words that I make things real. This is a day that demands to be real. This is a day for words.
This is a day for which there are no words, only family drawn together in love to wait and watch and listen. We listen to my dad breathe. We listen to our hearts. We listen to words that are not words, and we hear.
We are keeping vigil.
And then there is no reason to keep vigil anymore and there is a hole in the world big enough for all of us to fall through and we tumble back home.
My dad passed away today. I am a creature of words, and yet there are no words that do justice to him, to what he was and what he meant and it is not real, not yet, though it will be.
If you have a moment, spare a thought for a good man who will be missed by those who loved him.