When Everyone Dies

Rebecca is an MFA candidate at BYU emphasizing in fiction. She loves reading, eating, and watching cozy movies.

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Poetry
You cried when you learned Kobe Bryant died.
And not just silent tears that streamed down
Your face, but violent sobs that took us both
By surprise.

Your Uncle Jimmy died two
Months before. I was there with you in bed
When the phone rang: “Jimmy had a heart attack
Last night, and he died,” your mom said, but you
Just said, “What?” like you couldn’t believe it
Because you couldn’t, but you didn’t cry.

Before Kobe and Jimmy, it was my
Uncle Frank. Before him was your grandpa,
And then my grandma and your other grandpa.
Funeral programs littered our
Refrigerator door like the morbid
Keepsakes they are, reminding us both of life
And death, but you didn’t cry.

Before Kobe and uncles and grandparents,
Your dad died in a hospice bed in his
Living room with tumors in his lungs and brain,
And his kidneys failed as we watched, wondering
How a man can live and take ragged breath
And then die and take nothing.

That time
Between certain life and apparent death
Was longer than I thought. A moment
Suspended in a question of going
Or staying. It’s a transition we all
Contemplate but cannot fathom even
As we watch, looking for what they see and
Asking ourselves if it’s hurting or if
It’s only us that is hurting because
The morphine softened his eyes and took his
Mind a little sooner than death did.

Your dad died. Jimmy was there to brush his
Drooping eyelids closed. I cried a little
But not nearly enough, and I wonder
If there’s something wrong with us.