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January 30, 2022

Back Before

WA Hawkins

My father is a Venus flytrap. A spindly South Carolina native, he needs sun and humidity, and now that he’s intubated, his mouth hangs open, too. No matter what I do, I can’t keep him alive.

Back before the ventilator, he watched his grandson chase ducks on a video call. He got real quiet. I thought he might be on mute.

“Just picturing him grown,” he said.

I told him we’d make sure he knew how much his pawpaw loved him.

“Hush, boy,” he wheezed. “I ain’t dead yet.”

And then he clamped his mouth shut to keep from coughing.