Thursday, June 21, 2012

What The Dying Do: From A Series Of Conversations With M.L., Who Died

They either avoid music or turn it up so loud that it drowns out the ticking of the clock.

They regard old calendars like maps, or as they once regarded maps, exploring them with their fingers, memories, and imaginations.

They spend long days and nights on a bridge, walking back and forth across a dark and swift river, one bank to the other, waiting for the moment when they know they will turn around to find both the bridge and the river gone.

They listen for familiar voices, make lists, and run their fingers up and down the spines on their bookshelves.

They increasingly find themselves talking over their shoulders.

They take long drives alone, sometimes driving very carefully; other times they drive fast and recklessly.

They are keenly aware of the sound of closing doors.

They dream of old lovers, old dogs, and cities they will never see again.

They sit for long stretches of time trying to remember the laughter of everyone they ever loved.

They avoid eye contact with strangers.

They count: Steps. The cans in the cupboard. The shoes in the closet. Cotton swabs. Vitamins. Unwritten checks. Coins on the bed stand. Pills.

They wake up crying.

They keep track.

They hear the night breathing.

They regret, and apologize to photographs.

They are aware when the sun goes down.

They turn off their computers.

Late at night, when they can't sleep, they sometimes put an old baseball mitt on their hand and pound it over and over with their fist.

They wonder if they have eaten their last steak, had their last mug of root beer, or listened to "Exile On Main Street" for the last time.

They pick up and put down the telephone dozens of times a day.

They pick up other things, put them down, and then pick them up again and hold them so tight that they notice their hands are cramping.

Eventually, one by one, they let things go.


  1. Oh, dear. I think they are me.

  2. Well, this is just about the most beautiful thing I'll read all year.

  3. I love this, a lot!


  4. Accepting "change", as a major part of life, and learning to "let go" is difficult, to say the least.

  5. You have such a great emotional ear, Brad. No one would have said, "Tell it this way." But you found it.