death, Grief

Last Call.

August 3, 2014

A Memoir by Laura C. Alonso

We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material . . . when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us; all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be surprises.

~ C. S. Lewis

I called before coming that evening, asked if you needed something, anything you might have wanted. “How about fruit?” you asked. “Yeah, I’d really love some fruit.”

I drove over to White Hen, best fruit I’ve ever seen: golden bananas and enormous apples as smooth and red as blood. Three times the supermarket’s price, but I wanted to bring you the best. It had always been hard, you know? This was the least I could do.

My eyes sprouted warm wrinkles when recalling another phone call, earlier that morning: “I thought the nurse said you had the seizure this morning, not last night.”

You were losing your patience fast. “Laura, I don’t know,” you sighed, adding, “I’m incoherent.”

If anyone was incoherent and knew enough to say so, it would certainly be you! I parked in the nearest space. Still smiling, I jingled my keys.

As I walked toward the hospital’s entrance — stomach heavy, dizzied with anxiety, plastic bag swinging at my side — I surprised myself by whispering: Bet he’ll never eat the damn fruit.

The visit was short. You were tired, still a bit confused . . . said you needed rest. I saw some dried blood in the corner of your mouth but knew you’d fallen earlier; it simply didn’t register.

Driving home in silence, I thought about the fruit: my offering to you.

An hour later I called again — just to check, you know? . . . see how you were doing.

“Will ya please quit callin’ me?” Your voice was high, annoyed. “How the hell d’ya expect me to rest if you’re gonna keep callin’ me?”

Well, the thought encouraged me, he’s still his same old self. I went to bed, uneasy, and said a prayer for you. When the phone rang at four a.m., I knew before I answered.

I never wanted regrets. That corner of your mouth kept haunting me. What if I could’ve done something? Called the nurse, the doctor? You know how that goes: so many could-haves, should-haves. Oh, the ways I might have saved you!

But it wasn’t just that night — I had a lifetime to sort out (it was easier without you here, you know, annoying me). I’ve walked back through your life, sort of lived it from your shoes. And without you here to mess it up, I think I’ve seen your soul.

 

I wish I could have known then

what I’ve learned

about the core of you.

I wish that in your presence

I’d have learned what absence

taught me in the four years

since you died alone,

and I, alone,

have wept for you:

the ache you felt, the drive,

you had to prove

that you were somebody.

When drowned in drink and numb,

your lone-li-ness denied,

you drove me from our home

and never let me love

you, robbed me, Dad,

of knowing you. No, not

the man who bled to death,

but I was robbed.

To know your soul,

to know you then,

I ache. Regret

will always haunt me,

Dad, because

that night I did not

reach or touch

or hug or say

a word of love.

 

But love was not a word we knew.

 

I know love now

and wish I could have

felt it then;

I wish I could have

found your core,

your soul.

Instead, I said

“Good night,”

and walked away,

from your last call,

alone.

 

The phone rang at four in the morning. My gesture, lost, with you . . .

. . . and that damn fruit was still so fresh.

 

“Heart Apple” by Clare Bloomfield — from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Heart Apple” by Clare Bloomfield -FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

In memory of Richard C. Borzym (July 15, 1944 — January 4, 1997)

 

[*Originally published in Linnaean Street and SFWP]

 

LauraCAlonso-photo

Laura C. Alonso‘s work has been published in In Posse ReviewLinnaean Street3AM MagazineSFWP, The Manifest-Station, and other online literary journals. She is the former Senior Editor of Fictionline Press and former Fiction Editor of The God Particle, and her fiction has been a finalist in the Santa Fe Writer’s Project’s Literary Awards Program in 2001, 2002, and 2010, as well as a finalist for the Glass Woman Prize in 2012.

 Poster by SimpleReminders.com Pre-order their book www.SimpleReminders.info Subscribe for more: www.bryantmcgill.net


Poster by SimpleReminders.com
Pre-order their book www.SimpleReminders.info
Subscribe for more: www.bryantmcgill.net

Jennifer Pastiloff is the founder of The Manifest-Station. She has been featured on Good Morning America, NY Magazine, Oprah.com. Her writing has been featured on The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, Jezebel, Salon, and more. Jen leads her signature Manifestation Retreats & Workshops all over the world. The next retreat is to Ojai, Calif over Labor Day/New Years. She is also leading a Writing + The Body Retreat with Lidia Yuknavitch Jan 31-Feb 1 in Ojai. Email retreats at jenniferpastiloff dot come for info. Check out jenniferpastiloff.com for all retreat listings and workshops to attend one in a city near you. Next up: Seattle, Atlanta, South Dakota, NYC, Dallas, Miami, Tucson & The Berkshires (guest speaker Canyon Ranch.) She tweets/instagrams at @jenpastiloff.

You Might Also Like

No Comments

  • Reply Michele August 3, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    Beautiful tribute to the love you had for your Dad. Visiting him and bringing fruit (the best fruit) was an act of love. Words are a connection, yes, but actions cement the deal. Your Dad knew you loved him. You found a way around a word your family didn’t know….you gave, you brought, you prayed. You loved. Peace..thank you for writing.

    • Reply Laura August 5, 2014 at 5:15 pm

      Thank you so much, Michelle. It’s taken me years to reconcile that, but I am at peace with it now. Thank you for reading and for your kindness in taking the time to comment. xo

  • Reply Deanna Schrayer August 4, 2014 at 5:07 am

    Beautifully poignant. It is always great to hear we are not alone, thank you for sharing.

    • Reply Laura August 5, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      Thank you, Deanna. I can’t remember where that quote is from, but I’m hearing it in my head: we write to know we’re not alone . . . and we read to know we’re not alone, too. xo

  • Reply barbarapotter August 4, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Wow somehow this just blew me away.

    • Reply Laura August 5, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      What a wonderful compliment, especially when it’s something so personally meaningful as this piece. *Thank you* so much for taking the time to comment. Means a lot. xo

    Leave a Reply

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    %d bloggers like this: