Deathwish 038: Jennifer

Editor Matty Byloos, Editor's Choice, April 27th, 2016

"The strangest thing about someone dying is that it isn’t strange at all."

NAILED deathwish jennifer


By the time I arrive, my mother’s body is already cooling in the bed, transitioning from animate to inanimate. Her forehead is now the temperature of window glass on a late spring morning.

Dad called the hospice nurse, then called me when the mirror he held up to Mom’s mouth and nose didn’t fog. Death can be that subtle – not ugly or repulsive, not other. Just a quiet ceasing. The strangest thing about someone dying is that it isn’t strange at all.

Now that I’m here and Mom is dead, I have a compulsion to get out my phone and take a deathbed picture. I don’t trust myself to believe it once they have removed her body; I’m afraid I will forget. This is the junction between the realm with which we have a clumsy familiarity and that with which we are utterly clueless. I want to study the territory, let it work its necessary changes on me.

Today is Monday, my Day Zero, the day by which I will measure all the other days to come. Tomorrow will be Day One A.M., After Mom. Then it’ll be two weeks since Mom died. Three months. A year. Right now I have no idea what any of it means. It will take me a lifetime to understand.

I don’t snap the photo, because what would people think? But I will carry this moment with me always, integrating. Death, I have decided, is just an extension of life. It is as simple yet profound as wind, as breath, as bone. It is not to be feared, and not to be forgotten. It is to be lived.

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To read the previous installment, “Deathwish 037: Shawn,” go here. To participate in Deathwish, find details here.

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Jennifer was born in Santa Rosa, California, and currently lives in Redding, California.


Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).