Thomm Quackenbush, author

NOTE: This was written a day before Emily's father died and the entry was just found.

Thommy, I miss you. We're camping out here on the floor of my father's house--my mom, Lauren and I--and all I want is to be home with you. It's the worst kind of homesick because technically I'm already at home... My father is dying. He reaches out to touch things that aren't there, but I don't think he acknowledges the things that are here. He keeps opening his eyes as if he is looking for something, and yet I don't think he even knows what that could be. I'd like to think that his motions have no more meaning to them than those of a baby, but while an infant reaches out for the comfort of its mother, he reaches for the comfort of a parent long dead. Will I reach for him when I am dying?

He seems to recognize us, but be incapable of really saying anything coherent at all, except once when he mumbled: "What's going on?" or when Dawn asked him how he was and he replied "perfect." I couldn't bring myself to leave the house even though I would very much like to. It feels as if he might die not knowing where we were, and that is a thought I cannot bear, to even think that he might feel alone at the moment of his death. I think I have this terrible thing about dying alone--not that I will do it mind you, because I think that that is unlikely. I plan on dying with all those I love around me. But that others will die feeling unloved. That's one of my fears about our pets, that they will feel as if they don't understand where their mommy is. When we were thinking about giving up the dog, the reason I couldn't do it was because I couldn't handle the idea that he might feel abandoned or confused and to why his mom wasn't there with him. The same thing when Pyewacket got out--all I could think about was that she was scared and alone wondering what happened to her family. Now honestly, this thing with the pets started when I was working at the shelter and I would see people bring in their dogs and then the dogs wouldn't understand why their families had left them. They would sit and wait and hope that everyone who walked by would be the person they loved as their own. Sometimes people would visit the animals they surrendered and the dog or cat would think it was leaving to go with its parent--it was devastating to see the excitement in the eyes of the animal and then watch as the person walked away. So this is my fear--that someone or something will ever feel alone. That if I'm not holding the hand of my father when he dies, that he will wonder if his family is really there, or if he is all alone. Is this crazy? Is this my pathology?

My father's eyes are open but unseeing, I think. He seems to look out with only the barest sense that there is something to focus on, often he puts his hand to his head as if he is in pain, or thinking really hard. His body shakes as if wracked with anxiety but in truth it is simply the lactic acid buildup that comes with the territory of death. I am so tired of watching his death, tired of participating, tired of waiting for its inevitability.


Emily is a strong woman fighting against her body and soul to earn her wings. She is or has been a nationally ranked blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do, a two time inducteee to the Martial Arts Hall of Fame, an animal control officer, a graduate student, and a groovy person.


Stars in the Daytime
Stars in the Daytime


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