I was at a bar when both my parents died.
The first was some dump in The Mission, and when my phone buzzed in my pocket, I knew. I’d just arrived from my dad’s bedside in Sacramento. On my way out the door, I told him, “Hey I’m taking this. And this,” (his money clip and dog tags are all I have of him) to which he quietly replied, “Yeah, okay.” I also nabbed the nearly full bottle of liquid morphine, just because, and left knowing that I’d never see him again. His last words to me were, “I just wanted to see how the rest of the story goes.” When I got the call three hours later, it was no surprise.
When my mom moved on, I was sipping a shot of something at the Ravenous bar in Healdsburg. Again, it was three hours after I left that I got the call. I don’t remember who I was with, but I ordered a round and toasted the love of my life, and that was that. To this day, I haven’t shed a tear over that beautiful woman, which I guess is strange, but I’ve nothing but great thoughts about her. Maybe real sadness is more about regrets than anything else.
In both cases, I had a couple weeks’ heads up that they weren’t long for our world. So they were sudden deaths, but not that sudden. You can think of a whole lot of things to not say in a couple of weeks.
I looked out this window for hours with my brother and sisters gathered in a small room around a big bed. Our mom had tubes and shit shoved everywhere, so she could only speak with her eyes and they only spoke of fear and pain. For a time, her passing made me want to believe in heaven, as the thought of her free of her decades of infirmity, smiling and happy, made me smile and happy. Now I just remember her fondly, and that’s good enough.