Memoir: The thin veil between life and death by Scott Biddulph

It was a cold, rainy November afternoon.  The skies poured down relentless rain like the dark emotions that encompassed my spirit. I was determined to ride that day. The last time I had seen Ashley she said to me, “Uncle Scott, will you ride me on your bike some time?” We had had a short conversation at the local Kangaroo store in Dawsonville, Georgia. I nodded yes and pulled away. That day is burnt in my memory forever.
I barely made it through the memorial service. The slide show accompanied by music tortured me. I sobbed uncontrollably as I watched the pictures of my beautiful niece from birth until her 17th year. Then, it was time to go. The procession made its way from the church and I was determined to make the ride through the harsh cold and rain…Ashley`s last ride.
My mother, Ashley`s grandmother, was never the same. They were very close. In August of 2010, mother was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer. I never knew a woman as tough as my mother. She was a hippie, a bar fighter, a biker chick, and a working woman that raised three kids on her own. The cancer moved into her bones. I remember the day the doctor told me her hip bone and lower back were like a two by four that had been eaten by termites. Her pain seemed unbearable. In the end, she was unable to clean herself after using the toilet. I imagined myself in such a position. Could I bear such a thing? She finally said to me, “Son, I want to go to hospice.” There I was, arguing with her about her life. Who was I to ask her, for my sake and the sake of the family, to try and continue the fight? “Mama, if you go to hospice you`ll die of staff infection, not cancer.” She had recently had surgery to remove a tumor and the cancer not only spread but she also contracted M.R.S.A., a really bad form of staff infection. She said, “Son, I just want to go to sleep until Jesus comes to get me.” How could I argue with that?
Mama requested to be cremated and buried on top of Ashley—right over Ashley`s heart.
I rode back one spring day to visit the graves of both my mother and Ashley. Ashley died in 2004, the day before Thanksgiving. She was a beautiful seventeen year old girl with all of life ahead of her. In a bad rain storm that fateful morning, her and her friend Amy, who was driving, hydroplaned into a van head on. Amy died on the scene and Ashley lived about 8 hours before her vitals were unable to be sustained. I watched my sister deal with the devastating reality of losing a child. +
Six years later, my mother went home as well. Like the old Pink Floyd song Time, I realized time was ticking away—“shorter of breath, and one day closer to death.” I was seeing myself begin to become the next in line. The patriarch of the family, when yesterday I was just a kid.

On that spring day, I realized I simply couldn’t bear to see the grave site ever again. I`m ashamed to say that I haven’t been back since. I guess I`d rather remember them alive. Life and death are divided by a thin veil. I cannot help but wonder if they can see me sometimes. I once feared death, I no longer do. That I cannot return to.



S.W. Biddulph

Scott Biddulph is a published writer, author, and poet from North Georgia. He began writing as a youngster and followed his lifelong dream of reaching people through the written word when he returned to The University of North Georgia in 2013 to finish earning his BA/English with a concentration on publication and creative writing. His publications include the following: an eBook, Apples of Gold: A collection of inspirational short stories and poems (Smashwords, 2010) and a paperback, Voices from the Heart, (Createspace, 2012). His poetry is published in Papers and Publications Undergraduate Research Journal. Vol 3 (2014) and the award-winning Chestatee Review (Spring, 2015), among other places (Check his LinkedIn profile for a full list of his publications). He is currently working on publishing poetry, creative non-fiction, academic essays, and his memoir. ******** Scott has also worked as an intern editor for the University of North Georgia Press. As a freelance editor, he has done the layout and design of several books and magazines. He is currently working with several authors on various publication projects in which he is either ghostwriting, editing manuscripts, or doing the layout and design of their books. ******** Finally, and most importantly, he is a father, grandfather, husband, and dedicated Harley Davidson rider. He and his family enjoy the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains where they live—especially their screened in back porch where they love to bird watch. ******** ~ "I love realism. I love writing about the raw, down-to-Earth, heartfelt realities of life. I love to write in a way that reaches into the human soul—to take the greatest pains and struggles in life, and make them a blessing to others. Fantasy is a wonderful, interesting thing—but real-life situations, feelings, fears, and dreams are an unexplored ocean of stories that need to be told." ~ ~Scott Biddulph~


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