I heard him asking, “Where’s Michelle? Where’s Michelle?” So I walked into his room and sat down on the edge of his bed. He seemed relieved as he looked at me with a weak yet thankful smile and I said, “here I am” and then he pulled me down towards him so that he could hug me while he lay in his bed until I was nearly laying on top of his rail thin body from the waist up. His hair had turned white and his bright eyes were sunken. I could feel his heart pounding and he was clammy and shaking. There were tubes going into his nose and into a hole in his stomach and a big oxygen tank was beeping rhythmically in the corner. I laid there very still just listening to his erratic and strained breathing and at first he was just quietly crying which turned into a soul wrenching wail and then after a few minutes a desperate and uncontrollable sobbing was released as he tightly clenched his thin arms around me. I felt like I would die inside of him or because of him or instead of him if I could just take away his torment of pain and terror, but I couldn’t and I didn’t know how. My mind was blank with shock and all I could think was “how can I take this away from him?” I became paralyzed by the intensity of our final union. I was helpless to do anything but be there while he suffered…my life was over.
actually, it’s true, my life was forever changed by those days leading up to his death. Nobody knew me after that day. I didn’t know myself. I couldn’t find myself in the mirror. I would stare and stare and Michelle was just gone…
anyway, after a few minutes I pulled away enough to look into his tortured eyes and I said, “Dad why are you crying?” and he said, “because I never want you to leave.” My mother and brother had come to stand in the door because of all the noise. They said he hadn’t cried at all until then while he was hugging me. He died the next morning and that was the last thing he ever said to me before he left, “because I never want you to leave.” I stood in the doorway in the early dawn and I saw saw him exhale and then nothing…it was a sunny summer morning. He died on the summer solstice and as the men in blue suits zipped up the body bag and carried it to the van I could hear the birds singing in the tree above me. My brother was yelling and beating the side of the house. My mother had collapsed. Everyone else was standing around comforting each other. I felt nothing but vast emptiness. And I didn’t want to do it but they made me sing at his funeral, my first public performance, and I sang this song my boyfriend suggested “Thank You” while he played the guitar,
“If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you. When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.
Little drops of rain whisper of the pain, tears of loves lost in the days gone by.
My love is strong, with you there is no wrong,
Together we shall go until we die.
An inspiration is what you are to me, inspiration, look… see
And so today, my world it smiles, your hand in mine, we walked the miles,
Thanks to you it will be done, for you to me are the only one.
Happiness, no more be sad, happiness….I’m glad
If the sun refused to shine, I would still be loving you, When mountains crumble to the sea, there will still be you and me.” led zeppelin
and then I sang,
Om Namah Shivaya
and then I sang,
“May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you and the pure light within you guide your way on….”
The priest had tears in his eyes. I was numb. The military shot guns and folded a big flag and gave it to my mother. My father sat there as ashes in a big vase but I only remember his blue eyes and the sun. I kissed his forehead that morning before the men came to take him. He almost smiled at me, I whispered “goodbye. I love you.” into his ear….
did you hear me?
He came to me in dreams after that for several years and he was young and healthy and told me no one could see him but me. He is my father like the eternal sun in the endless sky and he will forever shine in my heart as god.
What he gave to me. He did it all for me. He killed for me. He died for me. He made me see who he became. He showed me where to go. He left me to carry the moon there by myself. He used to carry me on his shoulders. I can barely remember his face or his voice.
He never complained about the pain.
He never said he was afraid.
He even laughed and said “Om”
My father became death.
He was a lion that roared for me
until I shined for him…
because love never dies.
Sunshine Devi ☀️