Just before my sixth birthday, my father passed away one evening while watching his favorite television program. In the days to follow, I was bewildered by my first encounter with death, then overwhelmed with fear that my mother would succumb as well after witnessing multiple fainting episodes and her inconsolable grief.
I slipped into the comfort of self-imposed silence and isolation. In the height of the day, I could be found sitting in the backyard swing pondering the whole situation while gazing at cloud formations. In the evening I staked out the sixth rung of the foyer staircase. From there I could peer into the living room and see my “sleeping” father. For two days he had been laid out for viewing at our home so family, friends, and co-workers could come to pay their last respects. I felt it was of benefit and necessity to maintain the vantage point from the stairs until bedtime in the event he was to awaken. I dared not miss what was inevitably unrequited expectation.