I Was Roseann

He called me Roseann. My dad lay there in that pale blue gown, its back strung together loosely by long white strings, his once strong, muscular frame reduced to bones. Hollow cheeks in a colorless face. It shifted into a distant smile when he saw us walk in. As I passed the foot of the bed, his feet protruded out from the blue fabric that covered what was left of him. His toes, each stubby appendage adorned with a few coarse strands of Italian hair, matched the blue of his gown, as did his fingers. All thickness, all coarseness in his body had deteriorated into a fragile frame, his tough, angry exterior softened and diminished for the first time in my life. His words, when he spoke, were nonsensical. He called me Roseann. He lay in the same room where my mom, Roseann, and I stood, but his mind floated elsewhere. He was with us. And he was with loved ones who had already passed on.

If one’s mind is disconnected, where are they? Is the self with one’s body or with one’s mind?  Does the body abandon the thoughts, or do thoughts abandon the body? 

Either way, we sat with what remained of the body that was our father’s. 

We let him ramble. We let him stare into space. We listened and looked with him.

He called me Roseann. My dad looked at my sister Roseann and me, side by side, and looked me in the eyes, and called me Roseann. My mom said it wasn’t his fault.

When it came time for us to leave him, he still had the same distant smile on his face. Walking closer to the shell on the bed, I let myself be pulled into a bony embrace and felt an ear like ice against my cheek. He then hugged my mom and sister and said he loved us as we turned away from him for the last time.

Now, years later, I still can’t help but wonder if he died thinking that I wasn’t there to say goodbye, that I was Roseann?

Sabrina Pereira is majoring in biology at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey. She plans on declaring a minor in art and enjoys drawing portraits of her friends and her cats. This is her first publication.