I was fifty-four years old when I died on a Sunday afternoon, in my home. I can’t really say I died unexpectedly. I was spared some terrible body-wilting disease, and my imminent demise most assuredly was not on my mind at the moment it happened. But, no, it wasn’t unexpected. I smoked for over thirty years, for example. I ate terrible food. I hadn’t exercised since two days before I discharged from the army at the age of twenty-two. My death probably wouldn’t shock anyone. I wasn’t looking for it that Sunday, but I can’t argue that it was certainly coming.
My grown son was the only person with me. He had stopped by to watch some baseball. We were having a couple of beers and talking about nothing at all: weather, work, the Cuban southpaw on the mound. It really was a beautiful afternoon.
Tom’s mother had left me several years before. She had said that I was “stifling her.” Jesus Christ. I have never figured that out. I loved her and the children. Loved them. Worked for them, stayed up nights for them, sacrificed for them. For them.
And she left. I didn’t take it well. There was the legal proceedings, where I threatened myself in front of everyone. Ended up spending a week in the hospital. But I didn’t really want to hurt anyone. I just didn’t want to be alone. And, goddammit, I have felt so very, very alone. That’s why I was so happy to see Tom.
During the fourth inning I felt light-headed and stood up. Things seemed vaguely out of proportion and gray. I looked over at Tom. “I’m not feeling a hundred percent, boy.” I sat, stood up again, and immediately fell down. I saw the third baseman line-out to second as my son rushed to my side.
“Dad?” was the last word I ever heard. His mouth kept moving as he cradled me there on our living room floor, but I didn’t hear anything. I don’t know if I was able to speak, but I wanted him to know it was alright. Everything was alright. All I ever wanted in this world was to be held by someone who loved me, I tried to say.
Travis Cravey is a mechanic in Southeastern Pennsylvania.