The Smell of Death



I was twenty-one by the time anyone in my immediate family died.  Death snuck up on us rather unexpectedly when it took my grandfather.  Grandpa, as we called him, slipped away in his sleep after a long bout with Huntington’s disease. My grandmother discovered his body after rising from her bed to get ready for work. She had a massive heart attack within the hour.   Mama looked up from her sickbed as the ventilator breathed for her and scribbled a note that said: God told me it is not my time.  Stop crying.  I hovered over Mama for the rest of the summer and mourned Grandpa for the rest of the year. I took to wearing his clothes and Old Spice. 


A few years later, I spent Easter with my college roommate’s family in South Carolina.  I loved the fresh air and open skies of his small town.   It was so damn peaceful.  I never wanted to leave.   Later that year, at the end of summer, I drove back to school from Nebraska to pick up my roommate in South Carolina.  


The closer I came, the more uneasy I felt. I thought of Freddie’s family and all of the people I met and was overcome with a sense of dread.  I couldn’t shake it.  Something didn’t feel right.  I kept thinking of Freddie’s grandmamma.  The smell of death was in the air and it felt like it was in the car with me. 


Freddie told me later that evening that his grandmamma had passed over the summer vacation. Big Mama had gathered her children and grandchildren together and told them that the Lord had told her to prepare to come home because her end was near.  She died a few weeks later. I told him that I already knew death had come because it was in the car with me on the way down and his grandmamma was so heavy on my mind.


Perhaps tomorrow, or maybe in May or June, Hillary Clinton will gather her loved ones and political handlers together and inform them that her campaign is dead.  It will inevitably come because the unmistakable smell of death is in the air.   When Robert Reich, David Boren, and Sam Nunn endorse a brotha over a triangulating Clinton, the jig is up.   She simply cannot win.  Tomorrow will likely be a triumph for Hillary, like terminal cancer in remission, but in the end, death is inescapable.   Don’t you smell it?