It is with the collapsing This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

September 29, 2009
It is with the collapsing
of my father's lung that
the world collapses around me.
I could feel the breaking of his
very hold on reality
the last time I visited his
long-forgotten home. I
knew he had not long to live
but never dreamed of him dying.
I had prepared myself, spoken
to a funeral home,
chosen a casket,
for he had refused to give it thought.
I had let my children know
that we might not be spending Christmas with Grampy
next year. God,
to think of next year today
is to think of something lost,
something trashed on the ground,
which the people of the city tread over
as every day they do my life.
But for my father to die: that
is something I could never have
prepared for. And I sit in pain,
in anguish, hard on a park bench,
the very contact seeming to knock my eyes
from their sockets,
to jar my own lungs. I hold
my breath for a moment,
trying to glimpse his end,
trying to imagine not being
able to pull that last breath
through my lungs. It is at this time
that I see
a young girl staring me
down, watching my face
turn blue. She steps from her mother's
side and stands in front of me, her
breath misting in front of her,
freezing and disappearing,
the oxygen which mixes with my
own oxygen. She places a single
finger on my cheek, and I am shocked
that caught beneath it is a tear,
one of many leaking from my
collapsing body. She places a second
finger upon my other cheek. Then she
whispers, “It's okay to cry. My dog
died last week, and I cried and cried.
But I remember that he lived, and
what a gift that was for him. So
cry for your dog, or your cat,
your mom or dad, but remember
those times when they were very alive
and thank them for the moments
which they so kindly gave to you.”
This is the testament of my grief,
the sniffles of loss, the timelessness
of sorrow. And this is my thank-you
note, and my remembrance, of those
days when my father saw fit to grace
me with a breath, misting in the air,
freezing and disappearing.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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