Standard Procedure

“He died alone.” Mom’s stoic nurse-look faltered behind her tears. “I found him when I came home from work this afternoon. It’s standard procedure, if something like this happens.”

We sat for several minutes, and I stared at the blood and pain my parents had tried so hard to hide from me for twenty-two years. Finally, the officer summoned me to the kitchen table, and I sat down, watching him take notes, obediently fetching my drivers’ license as he assured me it was procedure to take down the information of anyone involved.

I don’t remember how long it was before we started moving again, but the officer concluded his note-taking, made some sympathetic noises, and told us it was all right to call anyone we’d made arrangements with for pickup.

“Let’s… let’s clean up a bit,” Mom suggested. She had to step around him to get to the garage, and returned with an armload of rags. We knelt around Dad and began to mop at the blood.

I found it painfully strange I couldn’t bring myself to touch him.

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