The First Stage of Grief – Jane Snyder

          The house my parents bought when my father retired has an open plan. When we stood at the kitchen counter my sister and I could look into the family room, where my father’s hospital bed was set up.
          The nurse, the one my father called Boss when he could still speak, was standing over my father in the bed, moving his arms to his sides.
          Earlier he’d been crying, flinging his arms out against the rails in the bed, but she’d just given him a morphine shot, and he was quiet now, took fewer breaths.
          She’d advise us to have the funeral soon, the nurse said, only not too soon, not before the fact of my father’s death had sunk in for everybody. But we shouldn’t wait too long, she said, because then people who might have attended the funeral would have moved on.
          My mother smiled. “We’ll wait till he’s dead.”
          Maybe the nurse was the boss because she didn’t embarrass easily. “Oh, Linda. How I’ll miss that delightful sense of humor. And Gerald’s too, of course.”
          “Today,” she said. “It’s going to be today. But don’t think you’re get rid of us so soon.”
          My mother’s side of the room was heavy with what she could have said.
          “We’ll be at the funeral.” The nurse said, referring to the other Hospice workers. “That’s another way in which we support the family.”
          “I’ve got a twenty-dollar bill says she won’t show,” my sister muttered.
          I told my sister what she could do with her talking money because I knew she was right about the nurse. I’d never see her again after today.
          And my father. I wouldn’t see him either.

Jane Snyder’s stories have appeared in Blue Lake, Atlas & Alice, and Broadkill Review. She lives in Spokane.