Advice to copy editors at The Boston Globe: “Never write ‘the person died unexpectedly.’ Everyone dies unexpectedly.”
My grandfather Reuben died at 53, expectedly. He had a weak heart.
‘I thought I’d never be happy after my father died,’ my mother said. ‘And you see? I am.’
My great grandmother Yetta died in her 80s, expectedly. The old house shook with the sounds
of their screams. ‘I was angry she outlived my father,’ my mother said.
My grandfather Yakov died in his 80s, expectedly. He broke his hip and could no longer
carry my grandmother’s chairs to Brighton Beach. Also, the workers’ revolution hadn’t happened.
My Grandma Tessie died at 95, expectedly. My mother thought she’d never die. A stick in bed, she ate every bit of glop the aides brought. Then she stopped eating. That did the trick.
I died when you died, unexpectedly. You weren’t supposed to go that quickly or that soon.
Fran Schumer is a writer and editor. Her poems have been published in The New Verse News, Hole in the Head Review, Contrary, and Sparks of Calliope; a new poem is forthcoming in Prospectus. In 2021, she was awarded a poetry fellowship from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. This poem is for E.P.