I'm washing my stepfather. I'm home for a night and helping my brother out. He had pissed himself as he does often these days. I walk into the room and he stares up at me with his milky eyes, laying in a puddle of piss. You OK dad? I peed myself, he slurs. I get him to the shower and I'm washing him like a child and he is sobbing in the water. This terrible hateful man who destroyed my family. I don't know how long it's been since my mom died, kinda hard for me to keep track of the people dead and dying around me. It wasn't that long ago though, and I'm mourning her heavily still. My step-dad, the only dad I ever knew has spent the last year reflecting on his life. I won't let him lie about what happened, so he doesn't even try anymore. He doesn't say anything but I can see it, I can see him remembering everything. He'll only eat if you put it in front of him. He was even cruel to my mom at the end, he can't help himself. Now he's had a stroke, now he is in my mom's position. All he does is remember. God is cruel, but God is righteous. Mom's death was hard though too, I spent the last weeks of her life with her. We talked about death, and she told me she was scared and I was scared too. She worried that she wasn't good enough, that her life wasn't going to be worthy. If that is the case I'll descend into hell myself to retrieve her. Hi mom! I say it loudly. She wakes with a start. gee I thought I was already dead. We laugh and laugh. I'm the one who sees her the most. It was always us, her and me. Among my earliest memories are her protecting me from him, us in the women's shelter. Just me and her, my dad kept his boys with him as insurance. So it is in the end, just us. I don't even remember what we talked about. She couldn't swallow, whenever she tried to eat it would get stuck in the back of her throat. She couldn't drink either. They had a tube in her when she was unconscious. When she woke she hated it so much, and I hated it and we both hated them a little for the indignity. We ended up taking it off, docs said she wasn't gonna be able to eat or drink and we knew it. She wouldn't say that she wanted to die. I knew it though. I knew she wanted me to make the decision for her and I did my duty. It's gonna be OK son, you're gonna be OK. I know mom, you raised me to be strong and I'm strong. We sit in silence before the blaring TV that neither of us is really watching. She was so thirsty and often was confused. I reminded her that she was dying. Oh She said, every time. We took her home, and she eventually lost consciousness. We fed her morphine to keep her comfortable. She wouldn't die though. The home nurses clucking over her, complimenting her strength. Amazed she is still alive. We all keep vigil over her, my dad prostrate and praying and crying. He wanted to keep her on life support. I reminded him that mom wasn't some doll for him to keep around so he can feel better. I am an Ice Age. I watch her heartbeat, strong deep beats. She hasn't eaten in weeks, I don't even know how long she went without water. We wet her lips and perhaps that trickle of water was enough to sustain her. She did die eventually. We were all asleep, her face is a grimace. Her perfect teeth. My dad closes her mouth and gives her a smile. He later claims she died with a smile. My oldest son asks if he can sit with her. I can hear him in there talking to her. I don't ask, and he never mentions it. Had a horrible time getting her home, the funeral home wouldn't release the body and we didn't have the money for it. I don't even go home for the funeral, truth is I don't want to see anyone. I don't want to talk about it, I don't want condolences. My brother took her home, by the time she got there her eyes were sunken into her skull. She's buried next to my brother and sister and surrounded by family. Dad wants to be buried at the military base, and he deserves it. Not because he's a hero, but because he deserves to be alone even in death. I haven't decided if I'm gonna respect his wishes, he never respected ours. Probably should bury him next to mom. She taught me a lot about love that woman. She taught him a lot about love too, and it's tearing him apart. God is always righteous. So many people in my family are dead and dying. Lots of ways to kill yourself in this world. I feel the weight, and it is heavy. I lie crushed beneath it. Sometimes I think if I am disintegrated in a plane crash I could will myself together again. But maybe I won't want to. Lost a bunch of warriors too, 6 total. 4 suicides. Might be 5, his mom gave me her number and asked me to call and I just can't. It's been a year since she asked. Probably lose a bunch more, and I know for a fact there are a few guys we just can't seem to locate that might already have passed that way. One went out on his shield, I imagine what little solace that provides to his wife and three children is welcome. She had to know it though, you marry a warrior and you know it. Them babies though. Memorial Day every day. I can't forget. I can't forget. and I don't want to.