Thursday, February 26, 2009

A subtle kiss that no one sees

Last November

My grandfather, my Papou, is dying. I suppose, in retrospect, we all knew it was inevitable. Maybe it’s why I’ve been blogging about him so frequently, maybe it’s why his history has been so much on my mind, why I keep trying to take and post feeble pictures of him. He’s in hospice right now, his 86-year-old kidneys failing.

I’m not sure he’s ready to go yet. My mother broke down crying by his bedside the other morning, and he looked up at her and asked her why she was crying. “Daddy, you’re really sick,” she said.

“I’ll get better,” he said, and patted her hand.

My other favorite story from these days is one from my grandmother. He sleeps all the time, waking up only when one of his kisses him. He recognizes us and smiles up, but he then his eyes close again. My grandmother asked him, “Do you dream when you sleep so much?”

He nodded.

“What do you dream about?”

“Salvation,” he said.

What a beautiful dream. I wonder what it looks like. This morning I knelt before a priest and had ashes spread on my forehead. “You are dust,” he said, “and to dust you shall return.” That’s a beautiful dream, too, on Ash Wednesday. All I am, all he is, is frail human flesh, imbued with the spark of the divine. I don’t know what salvation looks like. I definitely don’t believe that heaven is something out there, something that he’s going to go to, in the sense of a departure. Then again, I’m sure he has nothing to be afraid of. Wherever he’s going, it’s going to be home.


Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for a couple years and today it made me bawl like a baby! I've taken the liberty of posting a link to casting off on my facebook wall. Please tell me if I should remove it.
Dave Harrold
S/V Selah Ranger 33
Assonet, MA
P.S. You are included in my prayers!

Melissa said...


I remember you! You almost bought Secret, right? Thank you so much for your comment--it does help to know that my family's sorrow affects other people emotionally too. I don't mind the link.

Thanks again,

Anonymous said...

Helene and I went to look at her but I was not prepared to take on the massive restoration project.
My hats off to you and Karl for bringing her back to life.