We’ve stopped saying goodbye. On some days he is so close to the veil that he can make out the shapes behind it. Other times lucidity flashes across his face like lightning – bright-eyed between micro sleeps – and he can remember the names of castles and his childhood best friend. I’ve lost count of the “you need to come in and see him now” phone calls. I’ve already walked through that door more times than I believed myself capable of. 

I don’t remember my parents ever holding each other’s hands out of love. They are long estranged and there will never be forgiveness or closure. But today there was a kind of love. Not out of pity, but compassion. Their collective trauma is encoded in my cells and it is now mine to transform, and transformation, as it turns out, begins with courage. I’ve been angry for so long. And dismissive. It burns energy that I can no longer spare. 

When he wakes up tomorrow, he won’t remember that we were even there. And we don’t owe him the fleeting moments of happiness we choose to give. But I’m beyond who owes who what now. Grief is a slow leak. Moments are all we have.