A Good Day to Die

By Shannon Cram

November 2, 2020

A Good Day to Die

What I remember is the salt that formed in his pores like crystalline grains of sand. A million tiny specks covering his skin. Everywhere, everywhere, everywhere. The hospice nurse said that this meant his sweat glands were shutting down, squeezing out the last drops of his life.

They scared me at first, those specks. Too much texture where there should only be smooth. Too much evidence that he was ending. But then the sun shone through the window, and they caught the light, and, for a brief moment, he sparkled. He actually sparkled. My father: grey mustache, round belly, fading breath, salt-sparkled.

He used to say: “Today would be a good day to die.” It was an optimistic mantra—one that meant he had lived his life well, that he was content to go at any time. As a child, these words made me nervous. I didn’t like to think that my father could disappear. But on this, his final day, the sun catching the salt, it felt like confirmation. The day was good. The time was right. And so was he.


Shannon Cram lives beside a small lake and a large forest in the foothills of the Cascades. Her essays have appeared in Environmental Humanities, Public Culture, Fugue, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor at the University of Washington Bothell.


Photo by Trude Jonsson Stangel courtesy of Unsplash

comments powered by Disqus « Back to Beautiful-Things

Newsletter Sign Up

shadow shadow