Maybe I Should Move the Body

10:40 pm, Thursday evening. Campus is engaged in Small Group. Though everything is still, there’s vivacity in this stillness. Pedestrians pass, cars drive by, an ambulance sounds in the distance. The crickets are talkative, as are the AC units, as if to remind me of the way cold temperatures preserve what once was. An airplane crosses the sky, taunting me, reminding me how life’s commitment was death’s cause. The bell tolls. 10:45. Five minutes have passed.

Five minutes I’ve been sitting on this bench, over-looking the abandoned soccer field. 35 days he’s been lying on what was once my bed.

Five minutes I’ve been studying the night sky. 35 days he’s been staring at the ceiling.

Five minutes of still life. 35 days of relentless repose.

Friends chatter on as they walk past my bench, unaware of the silent activity unfurling in the calm night around them. A couple awkwardly meets at a bench adjacent to my place of pensive idleness. Although I know the clouds must have moved in this period of five -now thirteen- minutes, every glance betrays their unchanging appearance. The more I study this beautiful night sky, the more stagnate it appears. The more I glimpse the actions of nature, the more I am resistant to them. In my desperation to witness life, I cannot escape the absence of it. In my plea for the world to acknowledge the stillness, I am also utterly unsatisfied with it. This state is one of hopeless contradiction.

I see life, but I don’t see the life. Why won’t they do the same?

Everyone and everything continues to move forward, to strive for life. Yet he continues to evade it. Why won’t he just do what they do? Why can’t he be like everyone else?

Time is passing. The moon, a gibbous, still emits the same three-ringed glow around its tilted body that baited me to this location. The stars remain no more or less numerous. The deep blues of the outward sky, while beautiful and mysterious and beyond my comprehension, are still so placid it seems impossible I’d witness any cosmic movement on this night, at this bench, in these seventeen minutes. And yet, I undeniably do.

The night gets older, but he will never age.

No one seems to notice the still within their activity. Much the same, as I go to classes and work, live my own life away from my home, my dad’s lifeless body continues to lie there, frozen on the small wooden bed he was so proud to give me when I was just 8 years old.

Motionless, breathless, forever staying still on the pillow.

As I squeeze his hand, it refuses to squeeze back. As my mom strips the linens off my father’s death bed, still his body lies. As she washes down the mattress on which he took his last breath, still his body lies. As we erase the evidence of his agonized moaning, incoherent mumbling, restless sleeping, still his body lies. And years down the line, when I sell the bed to buy one larger, still he will lie.

Every new experience I am leaving him out of. Every day I live I leave him more and more behind. My life moves forward, but his is eternally established on my childhood bed, memorialized on unmatched linens that no longer hold his scent. Strangers walk by my bench with not an ounce of care for my father’s location. The crickets’ chirps alert the world of new life to come, and the AC units hum and taunt me, but, still, my father lies.

Then it happens, just as it always does. I look back up to the same sky that, with haunting juxtaposition, captured my attention, and notice it indeed has finally changed. The motions of the elements have surpassed the appearance of calm such to the extent that I no longer recognize the image before me. The stars more numerous, the blues more vast, and the moon just one all-encompassing glow warming up the night sky.

The bell tolls. 11:15.

Maybe I should move the body.


Originally written September 4, 2014.

July 31, 2014, Michael Alton Bloom passed away from multiple myeloma, a form of leukemia. Some believe the cancer was caused by chemical exposure during Mike’s time in the Air Force and later as an aviation mechanic. Too weak to stay in his own home, he spent his last days in his ex-wife’s home, occupying his daughter’s empty bedroom while she was away at college. May he forever rest in peace.

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Dear Chloe: Cancer Sucks, Life Doesn’t Have To

Take a look at the man in the above image. Handsome, eh? A handful of people say he looked like George Clooney in The Men Who Stare at Goats and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. I suppose you can’t really tell in this picture, but they’re not far from the truth. There may be other images that capture this man better, but I love this one. The old-school aviator glasses, the plaid flannel and suspenders, the tent, the White Rain hairdo, the kinda ridiculous mustache, the sunshine and contemplative look. It’s a darn-good picture and it was taken many, many years ago. But not so many years ago, three years ago today to be precise, the man in this darn-good picture died of multiple myeloma, a devastating form of leukemia.

The man in this picture is my dad.

We all expect to bury our parents some day, but not at the vulnerable age of 18. As I was beginning college, what’s supposed to be an exciting time in a young woman’s life, I was in between two grieving processes. The first began six years ago today on July 31, 2011, when I first learned of his cancer and terminal prognosis. This process was complicated and confusing, as I was grieving a loss that had not yet occurred but I knew was inevitable. The second began the day he passed, July 31, 2014, exactly three years to-the-day after learning of his cancer in the first place. Uncanny, isn’t it?

The following is a letter I wrote to my past self of everything I needed to hear in that confusing period of grief. Continue reading “Dear Chloe: Cancer Sucks, Life Doesn’t Have To”

A Glimmer of Goodness: Lessons from Blatty’s Colonel Vlora

Dimiter by William Peter Blatty, 2010

I’m going to set aside the obvious connections to the biblical Paul that, well, pretty much set the foundation for this entire novel. Instead, let’s discuss the fictional character Vlora, and how the literary devices used in this book help us recognize the inherent goodness in the ugly other. I’m particularly addressing those Christians who believe lacking God = lacking goodness.

When evaluating the supposedly inherit evil-nature of a person, it is only just to consider the circumstances to which the person is subject, as it is these circumstances which foster a person’s psychological and moral development. According to the fictional version of Albert Einstein, “God did not create evil. Just as darkness is the absence of light, evil is the absence of God.” (Y’all that quote is totally a lie. Albie definitely never said that, but the idea is nice.)

Colonel Vlora, a man raised in and subjected to the paranoid, oppressive, and atheistic environment of mid-20th century Albania, cannot justly be considered an “evil” man. Just as when the sun is absent and darkness fills the night, we can still see glimmers of light from the stars, so too there is a glimmer of goodness in Vlora which is simply “out-shown” by the absence of God.  Continue reading “A Glimmer of Goodness: Lessons from Blatty’s Colonel Vlora”

Death Has Personal Space Too

The Death of Ivan Ilyich, written by Leo Tolstoy, 1886.

102377-Leo-Tolstoy-Quote-Ivan-Ilych-s-life-had-been-most-simple-and-mostMuch of life is spent choosing between the outer, physical, material being and the inner, spiritual being. The nature of death serves as an intriguing dichotomy. From the physical perspective, death in and of itself is an unremarkable, inevitable event. Death is the epitome of conforming to the physical world, therefore confining oneself to the limitations of the physical body. However, death is also the pinnacle of relinquishing oneself from the physical and into the spiritual. While everyone must come to death, therefore everyone must ultimately be subject to the more powerful influence of the spiritual over the physical, everyone has the ability to resist spiritual transcendence, and it is in this choice of resisting the spiritual or resisting the physical that the nature of one’s dying process is defined. Tolstoy parallels this dichotomous competition between the two realms, as it pertains to Ivan Ilyich’s dying process, through his representation of time and space.
Continue reading “Death Has Personal Space Too”

Poetry Review: “The feet of Spring are on the stair” by Rosalia de Castro, 1884

Rosalia de CastroIt is better to die clinging to the hope of boundless life than to live without realizing life’s potential, or as Rosalia de Castro wrote it: “Unblest are they who dreamless draw their breath, and fortunate who in a dream find death.” This is, at the time, my favorite piece of poetry. I only hope my review can do it justice (find the full poem at the end).

In her poem “The feet of Spring are on the stair,” de Castro emphasizes this statement with rhyme and syllabic patterns, elevates the significance of this “truth” as one of superiority by juxtaposing this Romantic ideal with aspects of Victorian-era science, and concludes the concept by creating a narrative of life’s progression through the varying recurrences of heat. All of these aspects of the poem are used to support the poem’s epicenter: de Castro’s philosophical assertion regarding life, death, and dreams. Continue reading “Poetry Review: “The feet of Spring are on the stair” by Rosalia de Castro, 1884″