We received the phone call very early in the predawn that the man who gave me life was beginning the final stage of dying. I went to him as I had for every day for nearly two weeks, and sat holding his hand. I was the only person that had the courage to be there, because my father was well loved, and no one wanted to remember him in that way. The room was dimly lit, and the nursing home was silent for the most part. Outside the window a single crow landed on a wooden bench seat and looked in towards us.
I talked to my father about doing what I could to get my mother through the past ten days since he had his major heart attack, and series of strokes. I assured him that I would do what I could to see that she was safe, and settled into a new home there on the island, where her family lived.
I became aware in a moment that the hand I held was cold, and that the rhythm of his breath had changed to a more laborious intake. I had never held the hand of a dying person before, and there I was holding my father’s. I needed to memorize every little nuance. I looked out the window, and saw there were four crows in the courtyard, all looking our way, and holding a vigil.
I began to say all the things that life as fiction had not allowed me to. I expressed how I wished we hadn’t been such strangers to one another all those years living under the same roof, and that considering his formative years, that I knew he had done the best he could…and that I understood. I knew the man loved his son: he had told me for the first time the night before his heart attack, which had lifted a tremendous weight off of my life.
His breath became very laborious, and settled into an obvious struggle of whatever he was at essence, trying to wriggle free of what he believed he was in form. I looked up through teary eyes and saw that there were now several dozen crows in the courtyard, all keeping their attention on our little room.
As I looked in amazement, in singles and pairs several more dozen began to land and take up their presence in the mix. In the background of my awareness I realized my father’s breathing had become very loud, and his hand was quite cold, and suddenly the crows let off with a tremendous cacophony. I looked up to see them prancing about, flapping their wings, and cawing vociferously. Suddenly my back became rigid, my head flung back, and everything turned to light. I cried out to my father to go to the light, and began to sob uncontrollably in joy. What was this indescribale lifting sensation, and light filling my being. I felt myself feet off the floor, but couldn’t open my eyes through the tears, and couldn’t hear through the crows screaming their own joyful collaboration.
I reached the zenith of lift, and light, and let out an orgasmic sigh…then slumped back into the chair. When my senses came back to human, there was no breath coming from my father’s lifeless body. My eyes opened to see an empty courtyard…the crows had left and were taking him home. I began to cry and laugh at the same time. The nurse came in and mechanically reached for his pulse, found none, wrote down the data on his chart, then walked towards the door. She turned at the door and said, “now everything is going to be fine, dear, no need to be so sad.”
“No, not sad…it is wonderful…beautiful, can’t you feel it?” I asked. She gave me a curious look, and walked out the door. I drove to the copper quarry that day, a place that I went to to be alone, and just sat in wonder at not only the mystery of life, but the promise of release at death. Suddenly the world didn’t seem such a terrible place.
~ DC Vision