Before becoming my deathbed, my bed had been simply my bed.
And then I had begun dying and suddenly everything I did was all about death and dying and the dead. What had been my wishes were now my last dying wishes, what I had been as a man I was now a dead man walking (though I rarely walked and I wasn’t a man) and what had been but an illness was now
a deadly illness. Even last Thursday, what had been but a day was now my death day. It was all
so repetitive, if you ask me. I hardly would’ve minded if it hadn’t all been so depressing, too.
Everyone around acted like it was the end of the world, which it certainly wasn’t. It was just the
end of me.
I suppose I should’ve found it flattering. Instead it was boring and plunged my days into a silent
monotony in which I was forced to seem cheerful and consolatory when, in truth and in life, I
had never been cheerful or consolatory. I didn’t see the use of changing now. But I did it
anyway. It made them happier, for a while. They put yellow flowers on my bedside table.
Marigolds, like my name. My deathbed side table, that is. I wasn’t one for flowers, never had
been and there certainly wasn’t much time for me to learn to love them but it was alright
because they felt it made the room more lively, at least that’s what I heard them say. I had
nothing to complain about. If anything, they were thematic. Dead plants next to my deathbed.
He came to visit me every morning and every afternoon, even on the days I was barely there.
There were times when I was only briefly tethered to my body and I would float above myself
and I would see him sitting there by me. Sometimes he talked to me; told me about his day or
our future or how he prayed for me every night. Other times he would read to me. When it was
particularly bad for him, he would take my limp hand in his and sit there silently with me. I
always found it hardest to come back into my body then. Hope and pain went hand in hand, I
He brought me Marigolds. Every day he would add a new one to the vase until it became so
crowded he had to start bringing new vases, too. I wished he wouldn’t. I wished he would throw
the flowers away instead.
I was awake for most of the summer. When he came we talked forever and ever until autumn.
Autumn put me to sleep, mostly. The first time I slipped out of my body it was only for a few
minutes and when I came back my heart hammered so hard it hurt. It happened more often
after that until I slowly got used to it. When the pain came I even began to look forward to the
severance from my body. What had been a few minutes once a week at most turned into hours
at a time every day. By the time the first snow fell I barely spent any time inside myself. And it’s
not like I could leave the deathroom either. I wasn’t free to wander the world, neither this nor the
next. God didn’t answer when I asked Him questions, either. It was sort of insufferable.
Every now and then I would resurface. Usually to feel my hand in his. The warmth of him. My
nose filled with the smell of fresh flowers. They made sure to get rid of the old ones at the first
sign of wilting. It was unfair, I think. That they kept me for so long and not the flowers.
He kept coming. Every day a new Marigold. One Sunday he came only in the afternoon,
Marigold in hand. Marigold in vase. He had stayed at church longer. There was a new reverend
and the reverend had a daughter. He thought the daughter and I would make great friends, once
I was better. She had a laugh like mine, he said. She had told him she would pray for me. He
held my hand and he cried for quite some time. I watched the whole scene from above and
wished I could feel the warmth of his hand and be able to provide some warmth, too.
The rest of the week filled my room with flowers. The next Sunday he didn’t come at all. On
Monday he brought two Marigolds. An apology, he said. He had been in church, praying for me.
He prayed a lot more in the months that followed. He came on Tuesdays and Thursdays and he
read me books and told me about God and the reverend’s daughter and he brought me
Marigolds each time. I would like her very much, he said. If only I could get better I could meet
her sooner and we would be the greatest friends.
Those cold months (they weren’t cold for me, I barely felt the world) he spent in near complete
silence. Sometimes he would tell me something silly like how he missed my laughter.
Sometimes he would read to me. Mostly he was silent. I suspected he was praying. Or maybe
he wasn’t. There was only one vase of Marigolds.
I barely inhabited myself anymore. I could’ve chosen to stay more often but pain was all I would
feel anyway. Pain, most of the time. Sometimes, my hand in his. Sometimes, but barely.
They thought the spring would mean I would get better. People always think that; that spring will
make everything better. It never does. Why would it? It’s only a season, it can only do so much
on its own.
I suppose that must’ve disappointed him or depressed him or something because he came
three times during April and once in May. They stopped throwing away the wilting flowers. They
made the room livelier, I guess. Better wilting ones than none at all, is how they probably
justified it. I hadn’t been in my body for a long time, I feared the pain more than I feared death.
And I had forgotten the use of my body, anyway. There was nothing else to feel in it. June was
long and monotonous. They couldn’t keep the dead Marigolds next to my deathbed anymore, it
was a bad omen.
On Thursday I closed my eyes a last time and slipped out my body the way one slips into sleep,
only more peacefully. I watched them take me away and I watched them strip the deathbed of its
deathsheets and scrub the deathfloor and replace the deathcarpets. There were no more vases
in the room, or they would’ve taken those out, too.
My funeral was quite grand, if I do say so myself. I was their favorite kind of tragedy in a way. A
summer death. A young death. A beautiful corpse in the sunshine.
Even those who had only seen me around town took pleasure in mourning me. The reverend
spoke over my grave and he said a prayer or two but I suppose it didn’t really make a difference,
because God still ignored me.
They lowered me into the ground and people took turns shoveling dirt over me until the polished
wood was buried completely. The reverend said some more empty words. Or maybe they were
He brought a dozen Marigolds. I watched him place them on the freshly piled soil and it nearly
looked like they had sprung from that very spot of earth. Almost like they were alive. He cried a
bit, too and so did everyone else because of the tragedy I had been. The reverend said
something more and then it was over. People left. The reverend’s daughter wore a beautiful ring
and a dress the color of Marigolds.
Hana Kanter, 12b