Somewhere to go


I was thinking of that word liminality again today.  Strange how you make connections and try to find meaning, without even thinking about it.

I was reading about the progression of liver cancer.  Maybe not the best thing to do, especially before we go see the oncologist, but I wanted to know. Nancy already seems to think it’s pretty far along.

What I ended up reading were narratives of those who had lost people.  They described some of the symptoms, how they knew it was getting closer to the end, but the thread wasn’t really about the symptoms.  It was about loss and dying.  And many of them described something very similar: the dying patient, losing touch with the real world, and eventually becoming preoccupied with the idea of having to go somewhere.  More than one person described the loved one as actually trying to pack for a trip.  And all of these people said the same thing – that they had to eventually tell the other person it was okay to leave.

Tough to read.  Some of the people writing these narratives just seemed extraordinary to me, how they could acknowledge everything so openly, and how they were really trying (maybe in the only really useful way) to help others deal with something incredibly difficult.  I hope I can handle it – and help my mom – with as much grace.  I hope we all can.

I keep thinking of that: trying to pack for a trip.  Somewhere to go.

About the author

Tom Howard

Tom Howard is the author of Fierce Pretty Things (Indiana University Press, 2019).

He received his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Fierce Pretty Things won the 2018 Blue Light Books Fiction Prize, and his individual stories have won the Ninth Letter Literary Award in Fiction, the Indiana Review Fiction Prize, the Robert and Adele Schiff Award for Fiction, the Carve Magazine Prose & Poetry Contest, the Tobias Wolff Award in Fiction, the Innovative Short Fiction Prize, the Willow Springs Ficiton Prize, the Rash Award in Fiction, and the Robert J. DeMott Award for Short Prose.

He lives with his wife in Arlington, Virginia.

Add Comment

Leave a Reply

By Tom Howard


Get in touch

Feel free to follow me to get a follow back, and to say hello.

Follow me on Twitter