I think I was 7 or 8 when my grand-dad died at home in bed. He looked like a skeleton with papery skin. Like those pictures of the grim reaper. My grand-mum knew he was about to leave, so we kids were called in to kiss him goodbye. I was petrified. Where do you look? Should you touch? He was lying there gasping and I wanted to run. I thought the sudden silence was worse until the coroner came for his body.
The house only had 5 rooms at the time and they were small. We kids stood and watched as they rolled his body out of the bed and into a black bag. It looked like one of those garment bags my dad had his suits in. Then they zipped it up right over his face. They came to get grand-dad's suit.
Did you know blood moves in dead bodies? I found that out at that age waiting for the coroner. Blood gives you that "alive" look. Keeps your skin looking plump and moist and alive. It moves when you die. Slowly receding like a tide and follows gravity towards the ground. Lack of blood makes you look less alive. Like you are leaving.
It starts in the eyes. That receding blood. Maybe it's those tiny blood vessels. I don't know. Maybe it's because it feels as if they're staring right at you when it happens. When the heart stops. It just starts to seep away as you are staring right back.
I kept thinking of that song, My Grandfather's Clock. That's what it was like. The second hand stopped ticking for him. "and the clock, stopped, never to go again, when the old man died."
Tonight I found out it was cancer that killed him. I never knew. No one ever said. No one ever explained. I only got to watch. I never forgot. I can't ever forget.