Skip to content

Dancing by His Bed

I continue writing about helping my father as he completed his life. At this posting my father has already died, but this piece and the following few posts concern his end days.

December 29: Morphine Day 2
I stand at the foot of his bed. He is in a state of torpor. Though I’m in too much pain to walk, I can stand and sway to plangent Persian music playing on my phone. I feel comforted dancing slowly at his feet. He loves my dance. If he could open his eyes, he would love seeing me.

I make my way around to the side of the bed, take off my sheepskin slippers to feel the floor, the scratching rug, swiveling my metatarsals so the rug can scrub them open, let energy flow in my legs. My hands swim in wide ornate curves above his body exploring the sheer ‘shape’ of him hovering in space. On the bed, his frame breathes and breathes, though he hasn’t taken food or water for over two days now.  Jessica, our nurse, tells us his heart is very faint. Probably today, she says. He is very close.

After a bit, I step back from the bed and move a bit more freely, and feelings well up, spill out of my eyes. I can feel my feelings when I dance. How crucial this language is to me, to my ability  to know myself, to be in this world and the next, and all the worlds that flow alongside that we don’t touch unless we cross unsuspectingly into their field through an unknown accident or fervent prayer.


Girl with LanternNight Dance
I go barefoot  onto the deck, hobble without crutches to the rail. The clouds’ rumps gather around the moon above the trees. I move to my breathing’s erratic soundtrack and to my heaving, because I am crying out here in the seclusion of the cool, damp December night. My feet unlock. They weep and breathe.

I love my father who gave me such a special reality and an exquisite though often unspoken permission to answer my heart’s calling. I’ve always known that any adventure I was drawn to would be a fine pursuit. If I hesitated, he puffed breath under my wings. What a powerful gift for a father to give a girl child. I am terrified to lose him. Please please don’t go. I am afraid to be alone on Earth. For it feels as if I will be totally alone here…

Earlier today, the wonderful hospice social worker observed that he has done his demise gracefully, giving everyone in the family time to process. Very kind, gentlemanly, considerate. In dying, we become more of whatever person we have always been, she said. And she told me that, yes, his great need of me in his dying has been my chance to awaken, but my capacity to selflessly help and unconditionally love has always been in me. I love this. I am very grateful for this. She is the Good Witch Glynda.

I go in. He takes a strong breath in and out, then a long space, 20–40 seconds. His skin is hot. The oxygen machine pumps away. How does death happen? I’ll find out.



Dancemeditation_LOGO_B&WThanks for reading and for sharing this with friends.
Not getting weekly blog notifications? Email me with ‘blog list’ in the subject line:






Share the movement...
    1. Edie #

      Dearest Diane:

      This is beautiful! And you are not alone. I am grateful we are growing closer, you and I. This particular excerpt captures the essence of your giving so well: …his great need of me in his dying has been my chance to awaken, but my capacity to selflessly help and unconditionally love has always been in me.

      Yes, the unconditional love was always there.

      Bless you,


      February 2, 2014
      • Edie, I no longer feel alone. All of our connection after the service has been so nourishing.

        February 3, 2014
    2. maggie purnell #

      Dear Dunya,

      I am so sorry for you for the loss of your father. He sounds like he was a special man and father to you. I am so happy to hear that he died under hospice care since I worked as an RN in that field for 13 years until recently. I am sure you have been offered free grief/bereavement counseling for yourself and your family. Please follow up with this as soon as possible since you are now in the frozen state and may be there for about 6 months. I had this special service when my husband died. I highly rec. it along with a small book called “Healing After Loss”, Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief by Martha Whitmore Hickman. Lovingly, Maggie from Asheville

      February 3, 2014
      • Maggie, I will follow up, though I wonder why there is urgency to depart this rare reality. Why must we avoid or contain or curtail mourning?

        February 3, 2014
    3. Ana MacArthur #

      Appropriate mourning produces tears, which turn into lakes, which become clairevoyant
      bodies of water that clarify with a sweet acid how special the person is that we have had to say good-bye to ….what a treasure they are……how special life is….its a jewel! My father died suddenly when I was 9. It taught me to treasure who is in my life. I still feel he has been guiding all his children all
      along. I lost three very special relatives this last year. I feel the need to let each of them know more
      ….that they meant a lot to me. Its not to drag out mourning…..but it is to give them the appropriate dance ….the poem that makes one….and maybe makes them….feel complete. I appreciate Dunya all your intimate and delicate tracking of the departing of your dear Father…of a parent….its HUGE…and it has a beauty too….and you will be surprised how you will feel guided still by him. Thank you for sharing. I am wishing for you the appropriate time it takes and the completeness for you and your family. Much love….Ana

      February 3, 2014
      • Oh, Ana, so beautiful…

        February 3, 2014
    4. Anastasia Blaisdell #

      Dear Dunya,
      Thank you so much for sharing your deepest parts, and heart with us, so we can see you, support you, and love and appreciate you even more. It seems so lucky the connection you have with your father, and, yes, he does seem like he was a special man..IS, just not in that form anymore. I appreciate your love of your father, as my father has left this plane as well, and I only wish I had been more mature and taken the opportunity to really SEE and GET what was happening to him, to have the rare gift of being by his side and serving and loving him as he passed so very painfully from a rare kind of cancer that took over his humble, strong body inside and out…What a blessing you have had…a rare, special blessing all this time…Thank you… I agree to take all the sweet, dancing time you need or want to be with this process fully for you, in your special way. So much love and appreciation to you.

      February 4, 2014

    Comments are closed.