A Short Story on the Website of
the Red Dirt Writers Society

Life Ends
by Nick Lyon (Jan 2011)

As his breathing slowed, I waited, expecting each one to be his last. I watched him struggle to open his mouth, to suck in the oxygen his body needed to keep going. I watched and I waited for some kind of miracle or that final release of his life.

Ive spent days thinking about what life would be like for all those around me if I died. Ive spent time wondering what songs should be sung at my funeral, where I should be buried or if I should be buried at all. Ive wondered what comes after death.

Watching my Grandpa die, some of the same things went through my head. But about him. I wondered what songs he would like to hear the most. I wondered why I never asked him before, when he still had a chance to answer.

He sucked one more breath, and I found myself staring at the tubes that were protruding out of his body. I stared at the IV bag that hung beside his bed, the one with the morphine.

Well just make him comfortable, Dr. Cline told me. We want this to be easy for him.

The only thing I really wanted was for this to be over. I wanted my Grandpa to wake up, take the tubes out of his body and walk down the hall with me. I wanted him to take me fishing like he did when I was little.

One truth Id known for years was that Grandpas and fishing go hand in hand.

He drew another breath. They came slower. Farther apart. He seemed to be slipping ever closer to that edge of death.

I held his still warm hand in mine, and I watched him. I waited so intently, its almost as if I thought I might see his soul leaving as that last breath failed to come. The heart monitor continued to beep with the beats of his heart, but it was feeble. Weak. That too would stop with his breath.

I stood, finally deciding that he was only holding on for me. Still holding his hand, I bent low over his head and spoke into his ear. I didnt know if he could hear me or not, but I spoke.

Grandpa, I said, the tears already choking me, Its time to let go. I know youre holding on for me, but Im okay, now. Im strong enough to go on my own.

My other hand brushed at what little hair chemo had left behind. I kissed his forehead, tears streaming down my nose onto his skin. Another breath.

I love you, Grandpa, and I want you to get better, but your body is too weak. Its time to let go. Youve been a better grandpa than I could have asked for. Ill miss you dearly, but Ill be okay. Ill be okay.

I continued to speak to him, but there was no reason to. The breaths hed worked so hard for, stopped coming.

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