Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier to handle death if they prepare you, tell you what kind of feelings you’ll have, that it’s hard to understand and a part of you won’t accept it. You know it happened and in some cases you might even have seen it. It feels like the person is still alive, no matter how many times you tell yourself they are dead.
I didn’t cry. I don’t know why. I was sad, and I’m still sad. But I couldn’t cry. When they took me into the room, and when I saw him, my eyes were dry. Like it wasn’t my dad who laid lifeless in the hospital bed.
It was too late. I didn’t see him die, and I wasn’t there before he died. I walked into a room with a corpse, that was all he was at that time. Whatever he had been before left him the moment he was declared dead.
If death was a feeling, then I felt it. I remember the room better than how my dad looked like. The yellow wallpaper, the painting of the sea. That was what I focused on. Because it was easier to stare at that than at my dad’s lifeless body.
He looks peaceful, like he’s sleeping. This will be the last time I see him. Close enough to touch, to feel. Soon they’ll lower him down underneath the earth, eventually he won’t look like I remember him.
I caress his cheek - it’s cold. He used to have warm skin. It feels foreign, like it’s not my father that lays in that coffin. Is that why I can’t cry?
I carefully place the orchid on his chest, it’s white, exactly the way he liked them. I keep my fingers towards his cheek for a little longer, and after a while I move my hand and head back to my mom and sister. Both of them are holding a crumpled napkin that they occasionally dab near the eyes. I’m jealous, I wish I could also cry.
I sit down next to them; mom takes one of my hands and squeezes. She’s able to force a smile with wet eyes, it looks painful on her. She gazes out over the coffin when my paternal grandfather lays a bouquet on father’s chest.
“You chose the right flowers for him,” she says with a shivering voice. “He always loved orchids.”