If Death Were Good

October 14, 2009

According to my father’s death certificate, the cause of his death is unknown. The autopsy that was performed when (oh, god, to write such words and remain detached is beyond my ability) his body was recovered was inconclusive. More tests were needed. We would have to wait – weeks, probably, the coroner told me – before we would know anything. In the meantime, the cause of death would be noted as unknown.

For a time, this bothered me. Then, once I’d set about the work of attending to the site of his death and life, I realized that it was possible to come to my own answers. And I did (this, a story that I am not yet ready to tell.) And while I cannot quite say that I was or am happy with that, I can say that I came to a sort of peace, and that the ’cause of death unknown’ notation on his death certificate – with all of the horrible implications that such a notation carries – ceased to bother me quite so much.

And then, today: a buzz on my phone, a flash of numbers, scrolling text. “Missed call. XXX-XXX-XXXX. Vernon-Shuswap Coroner’s Office.” And my heart plummeted.

I have not yet listened to the message. I cannot.

Tomorrow, I’ll return the call. Tonight, I’ll tell myself my own story about my father and his death, and remind myself that my own heart understands so much more than science can reveal.

And I will cling to that.

*all gratitude to e.e. cummings

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