Thursday, February 25, 2010

Up the Stairs

I recently had a hard drive crash and lost a the last few months worth of work on the book. I'm not dwelling on it, and in fact it gives me a chance to start afresh with a new direction I'm taking. Up until recently, the focus of 7 Days has been mainly on my father and how his death and grieving for him impacted me. That's still a great focus, but I felt it important to introduce some of the details about my mom's death and its impact on me in order to give texture and context to my mind-frame as my father's illness unfolded.

This is an excerpt of a draft I'm working on right now, with those things in mind.

Up The Stairs.

I was the only one who knew whose things were whose. Before everything was cleaned up they had me go back to the townhouse so I could say yes, this was my mom’s, no this isn’t. Steven was in jail and my grandparents wanted to make sure they got everything of hers before Steven’s brother came to get his things. How would he know? His brother had never been to the house in my eight years of knowing Steven.

I remember walking into the house. Coldness overtook me and I trembled at the door. To the right at the entrance were the stairs to the second level. At the top on the left, a door to my mom’s bedroom. Straight ahead, the hallway to my old bedroom. A linen cabinet and closet on the left, just before my bedroom at the end of the hall. It had become Michael's room after I left. He was in that room when all the chaos took place, just two and a half years old.

My grandmother wanted me to get things of Michael’s, things of mine from the bedroom. In order to get there I’d have to walk past my mom’s bedroom. I summoned all my strength. I walked to the stairs and began to climb, one foot ahead of the other. As I ascended, the opening to the lower level became smaller and smaller. And when I reached the halfway point, where the railing met the wall of the bedroom, my legs gave out. I slipped. I fell just one step back and landed on my hands and knees. I was too weak to continue. I sat there and cried until my grandmother met me on the stairs to help me down and tell me it was okay. All I could tell her was, “I’m sorry.”

I felt weak. I felt like a failure. I had been asked to do something, and I had failed. I couldn’t complete a simple task to go up a single flight of stairs and pass a closed door to get to the belongings of my two-year-old brother. I feared they would always see me as weak little Dian, who couldn’t even get halfway up the stairs without falling to her knees.

At times I still regret not going up there. But I couldn’t pass that bedroom. I couldn’t even get half way up the stairs. My father had warned me that the bedroom hadn’t been cleaned up yet. The bedroom had been a crime scene. I told my father I could walk past the room if he closed the door, but in the end, I was too weak. I didn’t have to see anything to know what went on in that room, and I couldn’t bring myself to be on the same level as Steven or my mom when those four shots were fired.

There were no shots fired during the last seven days of my father’s life. But the constant beeping of the heart monitors was enough to drive me near mad.


  1. What a compelling read. Thank you, Dian.

    When I have lost data, I have always managed to shift it. I am grateful to know you have as well.

  2. Thanks for sharing the excerpt Dian! I don't know how I ended up in the midst of so many talented women writers, but I am savoring every moment of it.

  3. Dian, dear dear Dian -- your writing is always compelling - but what gets me most is what a beautiful, wonderful, HUGE hearted woman you are --even though you went thru all this shit. That fact gives me such hope because there are people I love dearly who are in ugly situations - and I feared for them coming out "whole". Love to you, girl!!

  4. I was drawn and wanted to know so much more! Why did your mother die? Who fired the shots? I got your fear and the heroism of trying to retrieve those your things. Thank you for sharing.