Wandering around aimlessly, waiting for the call. Thinking, this isn't really a good time for shivah. Chanukah's coming. There are finals to grade. Appointments to keep and appointments to make. Dusting, for when there is shivah.

Thinking, I shouldn't be thinking that.

Thinking, I don't like sitting on stools. I don't want to stay in all that time.

Thinking, I shouldn't be thinking that.

Not wearing the good black shirt, the one that makes me feel thin and sophisticated. So it'll be clean. When the call comes. Thinking of everything I shouldn't be thinking, so as not to think of all that needs to be thought of.

Thinking of his life. A life lived with a sense of justice. A life lived with purpose. A life lived with passion.

A life about to be extinguished.

My father and my two oldest children, circa 1998.
My father and my two oldest children, circa 1998.

An absolutely brilliant mind, losing the final battle to Alzheimer's. Who hears him cry? Does he know? He doesn't remember having daughters. Being a doctor. Saving lives. Is he lost in the tunnels of his mind? Or happy in complete ignorance?

I ask the rabbi, “Will he be sad? For all that he's missing. The grandkids, the jokes, the hugs. Weddings.”

“No. The neshamah, soul, is going back to it's Maker. It's what every neshamah longs for. Only we feel sadness, here on Earth. The soul, it will be whole again.”

The last time we spoke: “It's me.”

“I don't know who this is.”

“It's your daughter.”

“I don't know ‘daughter.’”

“Abba, Abba it's me.”

A smile. “I know ‘Abba.’"

I picture the neshamah. Getting ready to leave it's home of almost 80 years. Shutting down each organ, one after the other. Now he can't think. Now he can't swallow. Now he's on morphine so he can't feel the pain. Close the stomach. Seal the brain.

I picture the neshamah, like one who is leaving a house he has lived in for a very long time. Walking through it slowly. In the kitchen, lock the window. Through the living room, turn off the lights. Out the front door, one last look back. Return the key.

Abba.

Good-bye.