From: Greg Parkinson
Newsgroups: soc.motss
Subject: Re: Seeing corpses (was Re: Aesthetics and Race
Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 15:15:34 +0000

Jake Coughlin wrote:


> if Art was ever dead in front of me, i think this
> "wake up" thing would be very, very confusing.  

I've read that the way someone deals with a loved 
one's death has a lot to do with how expected the
death was.  One extreme is parents who lose young
children in accidents, the other is losing someone
old after a long illness.

I didn't have the "wake up, wake up, wake up" experience
with either my father or with Eddie.  My father had 
had a major stroke about four years before he died
and in many ways I had already lost him by the time
he stopped breathing.  What I remember most is 
how quiet he was, and that this period of torture
for him and for the family had finally ended.
As I expected, though, there were parts that were
not mourned and tears that would rise up out of 
nowhere because of some unexpected reminding.

Eddie had been sick for almost a year, very sick
for the last four months, and in a coma slowly
succumbing to PCP for the last week.  It was a
horrible, wrenching thing to watch.  The last 
week I would just sit with him and hold his hand
and talk to him, read to him, tell stories of the
things I remembered that we had done together.
When he died - after 2 full days of Cheyn-Stokes
breathing, which is where the breathing stops and
then starts again, and every time it stops you
wait for it to not start again - he just slowed
down, his hands got cooler, his color went whiter
and whiter (or greener and greener, thanks to the
hospital flourescent light over the bed.)  And then
he was gone.  This was something like 1:30 in the
morning and I was too exhausted to feel much other
than a need to get home.  The next day they did an
autopsy, and the day after that I met his brother
at the mortuary.  Even though it was going to be
a closed casket they agreed to let us see him one
last time and the first feeling I had (like with my
father) was how quiet he was, how much at rest after
struggling for breath for so long.  The second feeling,
and the one that has diminished but never really gone
away, is how horribly alone I felt, as though part of
me had been wrenched out and taken away.  Like Jake
and Art we spent almost all of our time together,
and all of a sudden I was expected to be able to
do things alone.  It wasn't easy.  I know the term
"other half" is a cliche, but I don't think people
realize how true it can be.  

In one of the videos I rented they had scenes from
other films that were available and one of them was
_Longtime Companion_.  I don't remember much about
the film - I saw it soon after Eddie died - and I
had forgotten about the last scene, where they're on
the beach and everyone they've lost comes back.
Part of it flashed on the screen and before I knew
it I was sobbing, feeling that desperate ache of
longing to see someone I'd loved and lost.  I know
some people thought that scene was stupid but I 
know that it was a top-of-the-list fantasy for many
people I knew.  Maybe it's just a different form of 
the "wake up" experience that Kristen talked about, 
only more processed, more rational, more accepting.

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