‘It was only after I hung up that I burst into tears’
From The Rumpus:
As Joan Didion writes in The Year of Magical Thinking, “The power of grief to derange the mind has been exhaustively noted.” Yet this derangement is something whose “cure” can only be lessened with time. It’s not considered a pathology. I was so deranged during my time in Tucson that I couldn’t even write in my journal. I felt that whatever I wrote about my father would come true, and I did not want to jinx anything. I also couldn’t have a single conversation that wasn’t punctuated by uncontrollable fits of sobbing. Even the most benign questions, Are you hungry? Do you want to go for a walk? caused my grief to flare anew.
With the doctors, I tried to retain an ounce of composure, even though I could not understand why they were asking me, for all intents and purposes, a child, to sign documents that said “Do Not Resuscitate” on them. No matter that I was 27-years-old, and an adult by every conceivable measure, including that last important hurdle at 25 of being able to rent a car and carpet shampooer without having to pay extra. No matter that I’d been a functioning adult for nearly a decade. I could no sooner decide what to have for lunch than I could tell the doctors when to end my father’s life.
I had nightmares every night for weeks. One of them involved me talking to my seven-year-old self. She was at school and she was upset because Dad wasn’t there. I told her he was there, just outside the door where she couldn’t see him, and she said that he would just have to leave again. Then we both started crying.