During my father’s final illness, I’d make my way from home to the University Hospital twice a day, like many others who streamed through the large sliding glass doors and into that city of machines and quiet movements and railings. – up to the third floor, and into his room. That was the year that the song Yellow was popular.

Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,

Each time I visited he looked worse, older, thinner, more wasted, his grey hair had turned white and stuck out in strands. They’d left his teeth in the drawer by the bed, he wasn’t eating anyway, and his face was sunken . Sometimes he was awake, most times not, often in a vague dream world. Once he told me that he owed $20 to the nice lady who took him on the tour. The tour of what? I asked. He shrugged. The tour.

I came along
I wrote a song for you

His hands would float, unable to land. his hands were the only things that were really him. Big knuckled and broad. But they’d pluck at the blankets, as if something needed to be gotten rid or brushed aside. Driving home, I’d play the radio loud. Not music. Music hurt. but talking- baseball games and stock reports. Information, nothing that could catch me unaware.  

I swam across
I jumped across for you

One afternoon, sitting next to his bed while he slept, his worried hands finally at rest, I became conscious of movement and realized an earthquake was rising through the floors of the hospital. It moved across the room, making the windows rattle and the curtains sway. In the hallway, I heard hurrying feet and a few beds over someone said, Oh man, oh man. I held my father’s hand as he slept and we waited together for the tremors to end.

I drew a line
I drew a line for you

I tried to avoid the song, but I’d hear it everywhere. In the radio of the cars near me. Floating down from a neighbor’s window. Parking in front of my building, I’d gather up my purse and papers, empty Styrofoam coffee cups,. The smell of the hospital on my hands and in the lining of my coat.  I didn’t want to but I’d look up at the stars:

And they were all yellow.

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash