My Gravity.

During my freshmen year at Eastern, a creative writing professor suggested that I write out every detail I could remember from the night, and even the week surrounding my father’s death. As I did, I remembered the fear, the confusion, the terrible sadness that comes with the realization that someone you love is gone. Not for a day, not for a week, but forever, for always. You love them and they are gone and nothing you can do can fix or change that. For years after my dad died and years after I took that class, the only way that I knew how to cope or calm myself down was to relive the days surrounding his death. When I felt myself spinning away, I would read the words over and over again until I finally accepted them to be true again. It was a purge of all of the grief that I push aside daily in order to go on with my life. It was my coping mechanism. It was source of reality. It was my gravity.

Sunday September 20, 2009.

I went to the powder puff game.

But the game was long over.

I stayed out later than I should have.

I shouldn’t have been out with him at all.

I’m never out this late.

My parents didn’t call me to come home.

I got worried.

Something wasn’t right.

Ben drove me home.

There’s an ambulance in the front yard.

I ran inside.

Monica pulls me aside.

Mom is in my parent’s room.

EMTs came in.

Dad is lying on the bed.

Monica’s arm is still around me.

We’ve never touched before.

They move him to a stretcher.

He has a breathing mask on.

It reminds me of his snoring mask.

The one that helps him sleep.

The one that helps him breathe.

He is not moving.

Mom is crying.

Monica keeps saying, “Oh My God.”

They take him away.

I go to my room.

Mom and Monica drive to the hospital.

I wait for my brother.

I try to text Ben:

“I think my dad had a stroke.”

I call Brian.

I can’t breathe.

I call John.

He is at work.

He does not answer.

I call Bob. I call Tom.

Tom and Lindsay go straight to the hospital.

Bob comes running through the door.

He hugs me.

My brother never hugs me.

He looks like he’s about to cry.

I realize it’s bad.

We wait.

I sit on the stairs.

Like I always did, waiting for daddy.

Finally John comes home.

Tom calls.

But I don’t want to go to the hospital.

He puts mom on the phone.

She says

“Maggie, it’s not good. You need to come.”

We get in the car.

I don’t remember the drive.

We walk to the ER.

John tells us not to cry.

“Mom will lose it.”

We ask the nurse.

She leads us to a room.

Where is daddy?


We enter the room.

A wall of sadness hits me.

Everyone is crying.

Tom is holding mom.

Uncle Jerry is a wreck.

Uncle Jerry never cries.

I rush to my mom.

She is safe.

Mom is always safe.

We sit. We wait.

The doctor comes in.

Where is daddy?

Intensive Care.


Brain Dead.

“There is nothing we can do.”

We go upstairs.

We wait.

Brian comes. His mom too.

She takes a cab home.

He stays.

We go home.

Mom stays.

We sleep.  Brian too.

Brian never stays the night.

Back at the hospital.

It’s still dark.

Extended family is there.

Another family too.

They brought pulled pork

We brought donuts.

Daddy loves donuts.

Daddy loved donuts.

We wait. We try to eat.

We never ate.

The doctors let us visit him.

We walk down a hospital hallway.

There are open rooms.

Crying families.

He’s at the end of the hallway.

He’s at the end.

My mom is sitting in the room with him.

There’s a window behind her.

I realize it’s daytime.

And she’s been here the whole time.

I sit down with her.

I don’t remember what John said.

I don’t cry.

Daddy looks like he’s sleeping.

He’s just sleeping right?

His arm twitches.

His chest rises.

My mom leaves the room.

The doctor is talking outside.

Brain Aneurysm. Organ Donor.

“But he’s ALIVE”

I want to scream.

I hear him breathing.

I can see him move.

He has tears falling down his face.

He’s alive!

And I am silent.

But mom speaks.

“Yes, I’ll sign the papers.”

The room is empty.

Mom comes to me.

“Do you want a moment with daddy?”

I nod.

And we’re suddenly so formal.

We are never formal.

They close the door.

It is just me and you, daddy.

I climb up on your hospital bed.

I lay my head on your chest.

Like I always do when we sit in the Lazy Boy.

When we watch CSI.

When you watch baseball.

And I watch you.

I remember the first trip to the hospital.

It was just a heart valve.

Easily replaceable, they said.

Blood thinners to help your heart pump blood.

Everything will be just fine.

Blood thinners to thin your blood.

So when you bleed, it doesn’t stop.

So your heart doesn’t stop.

Blood thinners to kill your brain.

To thin your blood so when it bleeds, it doesn’t stop.

I curl into him.

I don’t know what to say.

I am not sad, I am not mad. But I am sorry.


The door is cracked, so I whisper.

“I love you daddy, I know you can hear me.

There’s still a chance right?

I could just be dreaming.”

He suddenly felt too warm.

I felt uneasy.

I left the room.

I left my father.

There was a cart sitting outside the door.

With pre-made sandwiches, coffee, creamer.

Everything is pale.

Everything is dull.

I am numb.

Abi had arrived.

My forever friend.

It doesn’t matter if we’re talking.

Uncle Rich takes us to get food.

I am not hungry.

I sit. They eat. I do not feel.

Blank. Dull. Pale.

Someone made a Facebook event.

Memorial Service.

My friends are texting me.

Suddenly the world cares because it’s the thing to do.

It makes me sick.

We go back to his room.

Just us 6 now.

Me, Bob, Tom, John, Mom, and Dad.

We say goodbye.

Like we knew what it meant.



It’s Monday September 21, 2009.

And my mother is a widow.

I don’t remember.

Everything is jumbled.

I’ve been asleep for days.

It’s Friday now.

Memorial Service.

No one could call it a funeral.

The night before

We made poster boards

With pictures of him that we loved.

While looking through the boxes

We realized

Daddy always took the pictures.

He was never in them.

But we remember the memories.

And he’s in every single one.

The church is empty.

We are early.

Friends arrive.

Family lingers.

Suddenly its full.

Too full.

The choir arrives.

My whole school’s choir.

Here for me. My brothers. My parents.

No. My mom.

People talk. Pastors pray.

Memories are shared.

The entire time, my mom is silent.

My mom is never silent.

My brothers and I stand up.

Tom reads his memory.

I couldn’t call it a eulogy.

He was just telling a story.

About a broken dryer and the perfect amount of change.

About horses and Star Trek

And baseball.

Daddy loved baseball.

Detroit Tigers.

His home team, my tattoo.

I read my poem.

Watch me fly daddy.

I had written it years ago.

The choir sings.

The Irish Blessing.

“And until we meet again,

may God hold you

in the palm of his hand.”

Those words haunt me now.

And then I wake up.

Where is daddy?

Then I remember

And I miss him.

I will always miss him.

But that’s okay.


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