My dad’s dying

I was just 21 when my mum died after a long illness.  For the last month of her life, we nursed her at home, which turned out to be one of the defining experiences of my life.

Perhaps it sounds crazy, but I loved it.  Not the mess, the long nights or the muddles with pain management but the privilege of being with this woman who had loved me through all the grief I’d caused her.  None of it mattered anymore as death, the only certainty we humans have, drew close.

Since then there have been others including my dad.  By then I was in my 50’s as I curled up in the armchair beside him whilst fragments of my mum floated around us.

Over the last few days, one of my closest friends has been on death watch with her dad.  This prayer is for them and anyone who sits and waits..

god
no-thing
mysterious space that bookends our beginning and ending
some say searching for you reinvigorates our living
whatever
here I sit beside my dad

this is the death watch
waiting, watching, remembering

this now frail man
heading towards dust
his essence part of the chemical equation that gave me life

mucus filled valleys slow his journey
turning helps
gently as though he were my child
depending on me for the last few kindnesses this world has to offer

his heart beats on though no food or water is consumed now
life, as we want it to be
is almost over

we rest together
sensing each other
a collective unconscious pervades the room
no longer clear where he ends, and I begin

I forgive you dad for whatever it was that made me angry, sad or rejected
I give you thanks for my life
for all its dis-ease and desire
fuelling a passionate creativity
drawn from the genetic ties that bind

can you feel it dad?
the universe is shifting to hold you in a different way
ready when you are
we can both let go now

no-thing god
unknowable
unmistakable presence
receive my dad
be what binds
beyond our understanding
amen

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