Learning To Love You More




Assignment #31
Spend time with a dying person.

Kelly Chapman
Email Kelly



my stepfather perce died at home. he was 44. we had a routine where my mother would care for him mainly, but when she had to go to work, my sister or i would drive to be with him. one day i arrived to do my shift. perce was skeletal and yellow, and kind of translucent. i burst into tears when i how dramatically the effects of his cancer had developed in a week. protectively, almost unbelievably, in a paternal response to my tears, he asked me what was wrong. 'it's this' i said and sobbed as i hugged him.
we sat and i became more at peace. i asked him what was happening in his mind and he said he felt a bit like the white rabbit, with one foot in each of two worlds, and that my sister was there to guide him. he wasn't sure if it was the morphine. i suggested it could be reality.
although i was too scared to speak it, i wrote to him before he died, to tell him how insecure i felt about his love for me, that i had sensed his anger years earlier when i needed to be rescued from halfway around the world, around the pain that i had caused my mother; and that it inhibited my relating to him. he wrote back immediately and i still have the letter. he wrote that he had felt frustrated with me, but that any frustration had been more than counteracted by the generous space i had created in my life for my baby son. he wrote that getting it "right" with his party of five was the most important thing there was and that he was glad i'd written.
perce died in his own bed. on the night he died we all lay with him and stroked him and told him it was okay to go. my mother woke us at about 3 when he was gone. we lay with his body on the bed. it was cold and different than when he was in it but it was still hard letting it go with the funeral director. we didn't trust that anybody but us could take proper care of him.