A Walk With The Grim Reaper

When he comes to call, you might as well invite him in to tea. He's going to stay either way and it pays to be polite. Art courtesy of Tolman Cotton (Francesco Amadio)
When he comes to call, you might as well invite him in to tea. He’s going to stay either way and it pays to be polite. Art courtesy of Tolman Cotton (Francesco Amadio)

There must be a first step after loss—that moment where you get back up and say, “I guess I’m going to work.” Then there are the dishes, the laundry and the garbage to be hauled. The leaves to rake, the window to be fixed, the child to wrangle. Every motion is dragged from your body like an unwilling slug making its way across glass strewn pavement. One gets used to the sound of their tiny, anguished screams.*

I am an automaton clanking through my day with the occasional grace note of pain as thoughts pass by. “I should call him…oh…” “Dad will laugh at this comic strip…” and finally, I slip into past tense as I buy a Bigby’s pomegranate green tea: “Dad would have grumbled at the expense.” Days spent wondering when he would be gone are now chased by the ghost of that moment.

This seems apropos, if slightly in poor taste. Courtesy of gocomics.com/nonsequitur
This seems apropos, if slightly in poor taste.
Courtesy of gocomics.com/nonsequitur

In photos, I can revisit the man I somewhat, but not quite, knew. He would smile upon command, but caught unawares, usually was bowed with thought, twisting a strand of his hair so it stood up, Alfalfa-like, a shrubby cockscomb on the back of his head. The pictures are faded, pink or yellowed, erasing the certainty of who he was and leaving me with an afterimage I stare at and wonder, “Is that really him?” And then I will see a hint of that smile. The ear-to-ear, sh*t-eating grin with his eyes closed in pleasure at his own cleverness. The smile I sometimes wear whenever I feel the same.

I will shake this fugue state, I know. It is a sadly familiar road I travel. I plod the path where death greets me like an old friend. “Oh, it’s you again! Has it really been that long? Where does the time go? Shall we go past the park or down to the river this time?”** As I walk, I am cocooned by sorrow. It is like putting on a heavy cloak that I wear to winter the pain. Eventually, the sun peeks out from behind the clouds and I can take it off, basking in the surprise of warmth half-remembered. For now, I await the thaw.

Carl Krueger - Lover of irreverent humor and his equally irreverent daughter.
Carl Krueger – Lover of irreverent humor and his equally irreverent daughter.

I spent the day after he died digging a ton of rocks out of the wedge of dirt alongside the house. I planted enough bulbs—seasoned with cayenne pepper to deter hungry rodents—to choke a bouquet. When the sun does finally reappear after a winter that is decidedly too long, I will count the daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths and measure my grief in petals.

“He loved me.”

“I loved him too.”

“He loved me.”

“I love him still.”

He Loves Me
Image courtesy of RochelleGriffin.com

ALWAYS

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnote:

*Warning, my metaphors are squishy (like worms after a rain) and make little sense (ditto); it is a common side effect of grief.

**Death is overly chatty and loves to reminisce. The bastard.

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8 thoughts on “A Walk With The Grim Reaper

  1. Sincere condolences. Flower bulbs planted in cayenne pepper sounds a fitting tribute, in a strange way, to the man and the relationship you have described here. I wish your heart ease, when it feels ready.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you and, you know, you are right. I hadn’t even thought of it that way. The man loved to concoct recipes–I could easily picture him pre-seasoning plants to give them more flavor in the stew. (Note to non-gardeners out there: do not try to eat tulip or jonquil bulbs–they are toxic.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Maybe squishy, but right on. Reading about death, loss and grief from another’s perspective, undresses it from the clutter of confused thoughts and emotions that seem to accompany it. You’ve done that and yet left it’s poignant heart intact. You’ve also sweetly, vividly characterized this man – your father – in a few spare words and verses. It is a wonderful tribute. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That ending, Kiri: Measuring your grief in petals. That was so touching, and beautiful.

    I’m sorry. I hope you can still talk to him sometimes, and feel he hears you. That can help.
    I still occasionally turn to pick up the phone on a weekend to tell my mom something. I guess I don’t need the phone any more.

    Much love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. It touches me more than you can know that you commented on this. Sharing the grief seems to give it more meaning for me. And I think that is what community gives us–a reflection of humanity, its spirit and emotional understanding.

      Liked by 1 person

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