Father’s Day

On the phone she said, my husband is dying, can you come? He drove out to her apartment, she was sitting in her front room and she wanted to plan her husband’s funeral. He was lying in the other room in a hospital bed. Two sons came in.

She wanted to know the order of prayers and events at the funeral. The man suggested that the first thing was to accompany him through the passage. What do you mean passage? she asked innocently. The passage of his soul. His soul, she said, she said it again — his soul — and again. His soul, yes, she said. There was a moment of good silence.

Then they all gathered around their beloved’s bed and sang prayers quietly into his ear and his sons kissed his forehead and rubbed his hands.

The father’s eyes fluttered as his sons kissed him. Later they were talking back in the other room.

Tell me about the soul, one son asked. The man mentioned five names for the soul, the last of which was “unity.” All were beautiful words, each referring to a deeper sense of self culminating in unity.

This is the goal of the soul’s journey, one of the sons said, to return from where we came. Maybe that’s God, he said. There was silence in the room, all of them floating on their own thoughts, and the soft whirring of a fan coming from the other room.

“I feel his soul reaching for God,” one of the sons said. “Yes,” the man said, “I feel it too.”

“He has a big soul,” his other son said. “I feel his soul in a circle of great souls,” he said. “His soul is making its journey home.”

“Yes,” they all said enthusiastically. They returned to the father’s bedside, they kissed his head, read him psalms and poetry.

It was Father’s Day, and later that afternoon, their father died.

jsg, usa