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The Day Maw Died

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The Day Maw Died

I’ll never forget the day my maw died. She held on longer than any of us expected she woulda, but eventually, death comes for us all. He don’t care how, or where, or when. When it’s time to go, welp, it’s time to go.

It’s not that I was shocked when Dr. Peterson called to tell me that she’d taken a turn for the worse. I was in denial. We all were. But, I knew. The second I recognized his voice, I knew why he’d called. I knew that Maw wasn’t long for this world, and like a good and dutiful son, I packed myself up in my car and drove for the city. For the hospital where she would spend her final moments.

Everybody was there when I showed up. Brothers and sister. My aunts, uncles, and cousins. It pained me that Paw couldn’t be there with us, and my heart sank when I realized that it would be my responsibility to tell him that Maw had passed on. I dreaded that conversation, more than the moment my Maw would draw her final breath.

I held her hand ’til the very end. From the moment I crossed the threshold of her room, ’til her dying breath left her lips. It’s such a strange thing to be holding onto someone like that when their soul leaves their body. I could feel her go. There was…a change in the air. A drop in pressure or something like that, and then, she was just…gone.

The room erupted in howling cries of pain and grief. Aunt Geraldine ripped open the door and screeched into the hallway. Nurses came running, shoving us all out of the way. I simply smiled, patted Maw’s hand, and stood up to move out of their way. A few tears ran down my cheeks as I watched the nurses confirm what I already knew. Maw had finally passed on. She would suffer no more, and for that, I was grateful.

The drive home was spent in pure silence. I turned the radio off and left myself alone with my thoughts and I was sickened by the fact that a part of me was glad to see Maw go. I mean, no one should have to suffer the way she did, and that part of her journey was finally over. But then, my thoughts would turn back to Paw and my gut would twist itself up into knots. I had no idea what kind of commotion he might cause when I broke the news to him. Lately, he’d been a right thorn in my backside. I just hoped that he wouldn’t send me to be with Maw prematurely.

When I got home that night, Paw was already agitated. I think he knew about Maw, somehow, before I ever uttered a word. He was standing in the darkest corner of the living room, his back facing me, rocking gently and swaying on his feet. He did that sometimes. Scared the crap outta me when I woke up to find him standing in the darkened corners of my bedroom that way. But, I could never be mad at him. He was my Paw. My blood.

“Paw,” I called out, closing the front door behind me. “Paw, we need to talk.”

He stopped rocking and stood completely still, his eyes boring holes into that dark corner.

I flopped down on the couch and took a deep breath, rubbing my eyes with the palms of my hands. “It’s about Maw,” I said, and before I could even move my hands away from my eyes, Paw was standing over me, boring into me with his cold, gray eyes.

After a few moments, I realized that his intense stare was his way of telling me to continue, so I did. “I-it’s about Maw,” I stammered, unsure how to say the words. “She-” I sighed deeply and tears broke free from my eyes. “She’s dead, Paw! Maw’s dead!” My body racked with sobs and I broke down into a blubbering mess right there on the couch. When I finally found myself again, I looked up to see Paw sitting in the chair across the way with his head in his hands. I could clearly see that he was sobbing, but there was no sound. My heart broke all over again, watching him suffer in silent torment, but I knew what I had to do. It was time.

“Paw,” I said, reaching a shaking hand towards him, “there’s something else you need to know.”

He looked up at me then, his eyes red-rimmed and full of those awful, silent tears.

“You’re dead too, Paw. It’s time for you to go now.”

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