I’ve been reading about female executions. Morbid. Yes. what is my fascination with violence and wrong doing? I slow when there is a car accident, wondering if I will bare witness to tragedy. I realize that millions of people have asked this same question. And oddly enough, there is no real answer.
I have never seen anyone beaten or murdered. The only dead bodies I’ve seen are my parents and grandmother.
My mother was at rest in a hospital bed, her toes well manicured and painted red. Liquor had claimed her liver. Jim Beam had been her best friend, then later her executioner. Her death was sudden like crumpled paper with a bad idea written on it. When the nurse removed her oxygen mask, it took about a minute for her to die. It was a quiet night, nothing spectacular was happening in the hospital. I kissed her forehead and said goodbye, said I would see her on the other side.
And then there was my grandmother. I had just left the nursing home. Ten minutes later, I got the call that she had died. Her last words to me were “where are we going to find you another guy.” WIth her last breath she was thinking of me. Her body did not look natural. Her face was stuck in a yawn. I stayed and cried by her bedside for an hour, hoping my tears would wash her awake like bleach taking out the stubborn stain.
A heart attack killed my father instantly. It wasn’t like a bee sting where you can remove the stinger. In the emergency room, hospital staff had not removed the breathing tube they had shoved down his throat with the hope to resuscitate a dead body. I’m still mixed by my father’s death. During football season I still think we can talk football–a phone call away. Him forever silent on the other end like a kid who dropped the can on the string, frustrated with the lack of conversation.
So how did I get from executed woman to the dead bodies of my family? Death binds them. Death is not a subtle hand. In executions, it is immediate unless the blade is bot sharp enough, the noosed not right, the torture of limbs being torn apart on the stretch rack, slowly. There are numerous ways to kill a person, none of them decent.
I’m glad my loved ones did not suffer. I sleep hoping they visit me in my dreams. I wake hoping I will feel them by my side. Death is permanent, and yet ongoing. My cats see them. They wash over me like a cashmere blanket. I love. I love.