83–Like a tiger in the bush.
Some days I experienced my father’s decline with the equanimity of a monk, and other days with the fury of a tiger.
Among all the softer emotions we feel walking a person through their last weeks, there are also many sharp feelings, ugly feelings, misshapen feelings that visit us—with anger being a regular presence.
And no surprise: for what is fair about death? The way it comes for some people quickly, without warning, or the way it stalks others like a tiger in the bush? Or the way, like that same tiger, it plays with some to the bitter end, until the last pulses of energy are released from a weakened body and put back into the world?
Some days I experienced my father’s decline with the equanimity of a monk, and others, I clenched my jaw and ground my teeth and cursed the cruelty of his unfair fate. Some days I watched the tiger—others I was the tiger.
Here, in this poem, I am angry. His brain, crowded out by the tumor, has begun to forfeit basic functions, and I am tasked with putting him in a diaper.
Anger isn’t bad or unwelcome. It too is part of the door-to-door mess we call human life. The tiger’s victim is just as physical as the tiger; a being taken apart by the thrusting violence of an unchosen darkness. We must respect the tiger, but we can also curse it.