What Death Leaves Behind

March 10, 2017
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I looked at my dad long and hard. My eyes scrutinizing every detail of his face hoping to catch any glimpse of this being a joke. His eyes looked tired as he rubbed at the blue and purple crescents roughly painted on by sleepless nights. My father’s usually upturned mouth, was set in a firm line, the corners were now framed by wrinkles from his recent frowning and his rare salt and pepper stubble had lengthened into a beard that wrapped around his scowling mouth and fanned out along his jawline, reaching for his anxiety strung hair. His naturally bronzed skin had taken on a sickly grey hue and it seemed stretched thin over the structured bones that had once made him handsome. This man was not my father, but someone slowly dying from the inside out, close to becoming death himself.

    The answer was obvious to me now and my heart slammed painfully against my ribcage as I realized just how much my father had been hurting, if his appearances had anything to say about it. I thrummed my fingers anxiously against the old wooden table we were sat at. I tucked a piece of my own dingy hair behind my ear. I couldn't judge my father for how he looked when I was no better off. Rocking my back from off of the wooden chair I was resting on, I folded my arms in front of me and rested them neatly on the table. Drawing in a deep breath slowly, my nostrils flaring,  I heaved a sigh of resignation, causing my father’s dull eyes to show a sign of life as a shy ember of hope sparked in his irises. When I nodded my head ‘okay’ his chair screeched across the tiled floor and almost toppled over with the speed he used to get to me. As he reached me, I tensed having forgotten his touch, but eventually relaxed into his warm embrace and rested my head on his chest to hear the slow beat of the weak muscle that lay deep in his chest. Closing my eyes, I drew my arms around him and gently squeezed, afraid that if I let go or loosened my grip in the slightest, he would slip through my fingers, even further than he already has.

Since my mother’s death, my father was only a shell of the man he used to be. Cancer took her from us so suddenly that we didn’t even get to say goodbye. It was like the rug beneath our feet was pulled out and we were left suffer the casualties of the fall, alone. Neither of us has been handling her death very well but a change of scenery and leaving behind the house we had built a life around her, in, would do us both some good. What my dad asked of me, leaving behind everything I’ve ever known, is a huge favor to ask of me but I was willing to do it for him, if it meant we could be a family again. My life has changed so dramatically already and adding to the fact that I was basically going to start a brand new life, I’m not sure how much more I can take. I can only hope that I wouldn't come to regret this decision. I can only hope that this change will rid our lives of the bad that death left behind.

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