End Scene

Miun Gleeson


There was such a cinematic treatment to those last few weeks like the classic scene of me prostrating at the airline ticket counter to find another flight while travelers craned their necks to the peals of my pleas that carried throughout the terminal because Jesus Christ, of all the things to be late for, and then there was a meet-cute with my seatmate in 17F where we passed international time zones by chatting about the jobs we only mildly enjoyed and the culinary jewels of our respective cities before he finally asked the nature of my travel and I told him this was decidedly not business nor pleasure and his face fell, followed by the unspoken offering of the arm rest for the next twelve hours, and when I landed in Korea, I was greeted by my father’s older brother who hit all his marks and stepped into frame at the exact moment I made my ascent up the escalator and he was even perfectly illuminated under a street light that cast a halo on the crown of his head, but I knew there would be no saving of anyone today; the drive to the hospital was a tracking shot of me staring out the window to critically assess this place, this peninsula, this “land of morning calm” where my father returned to after nearly four decades in the land of the free to arrange for the poetic symmetry of his death in the native tilth and texture of his birth, and then, of course, we had the classic trope of the lingering bedside vigil that didn’t disappoint with its dramatic catharsis that maybe his decision to die on the other side of the world wasn’t actually an indictment of my failures, but to shield me from the languor and labor that is dying as we even stifled a laugh at the darkly comic notion that it took this yes this is what it took him to get me to this country, his country, that I had tried to insulate myself from in my American-ness, and after his chest stopped rising, there was the ceremonial hand-off of the personal effects to his survivor who was me, but what does it mean to survive this, I demanded of everyone and no one at once because as I clutched my father’s black-rimmed glasses and passport to my chest, there was a flashback to six months earlier when I shared new 4x6s of my girls, the toothy introspective one and the pint-sized irrepressible one, which positively broke him and the way he brought the photos to his chest and sobbed violently foreshadowed this ending more definitively than any of his latest scans of the insidious growth in the lone regenerative organ, but before rolling credits, we pan to a wide shot of the airplane slowly pulling back from the gate as I left to return to my home on that misty morning after I had mixed his ashes in with the soil where he was birthed, under the tree with the outstretched limbs that fanned skyward, as he wished and as I now accepted, because this is where I leave him, this is how it ends and while this was not a dream sequence, the cameos he makes in my dreams in the months to come seem to suggest that this beginning is the ending is the beginning to a new story.


Miun Gleeson is a Philadelphia-area based writer whose work has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Globe magazine, Newsweek, Capsule Stories, Motherwell, TODAY Parents and more.
You can read more of her writing at www.miungleeson.com.