Charles F. Benda, Jr.
September 23, 1947 – August 26, 2017
My brain is still processing
this seismic shift.
I still hear his breathing,
I still listen for his stirring,
I still sit in silence awaiting him to call my name,
But, in my heart, I know he is gone.
My dad has gone home.
We knew he was close.
All of us.
We sat vigil alongside his bed
Overlooking the river
“This is what he always wanted,”
We whisper and pray…
It makes it easier.
The same hands that…
Held me as a baby
Lifted me up when I fell
Gripped mine in “Left on, Brotha” solidarity
Gathered up my children,
Leads the way…
Yesterday, those hands
were clenched in fists…
Not in anger,
but a natural reflex,
a response to the impending –
His body shutting down.
I chose to pry open both hands
Carefully unfolding each finger
The urge to wash them immediate.
The water in the pink plastic hospital bin just right.
First, the left
(Left on, Brotha)
Lathering up with sweet-smelling baby wash
Careful, so as not to spill,
I gather up the bin and walk around his bed to the other side.
Move on to his right hand.
“Is he still breathing?” his wife asks.
We all look down
I am still holding his soapy hand
It is still warm
We had not noticed the rattling had quieted down
The short breath I saw a moment before,
It was a good death.
My brain is still processing this seismic shift.
(Originally posted to Facebook on 8/27/2017)