Un(der)known Writers: Evelyn Pappas

I remember adjusting my fathers suit during funeral service. Feeling his cold face against my face. I remember watching him go blind. I remember him shooting upright in the bed to say he’s confused. I remember someone giving me a handful of dirt to sprinkle on his body before closing the casket. I remember how his eyes fogged over and he couldn’t see me anymore. I remember the doctors lying to him. I remember laying on my aunts lap for eight hours on the plane. Sitting in a truck for another eight until we got to my village. Waiting another eight amidst a horde of people for them to bring the body. Not being allowed two seconds alone to even cry. Greeting people endlessly greeting people. None of whom knew what I just lived through. Taking him from procedure to procedure all alone, month after month, week after week. Never accepting the eventuality. I thought the dread was something else. I remember trying to explain it and not being able to. I remember witnessing him lose his senses, becoming delusional, speaking to dead people. Asking for people and things he hadn’t asked for in years; cigarettes, his mother, his traveling tote. Seeing him lose touch and no longer recognizing me. Being alone with him while everyone else was busy working and he was dying and neither of us could accept it. Things I never talk about. Things I’ll never process. Watching his body contort and disfigure and then 48 hours later watching it packed into a ditch.

I don’t feel anything at the cemetery. Now there’s a marble tombstone with his name engraved on it, will that make me feel something? I have no interest in visiting his grave even though I’m supposed to light the vigil and put flowers. I have no interest I have no concept of time anymore. Or of rituals and sanctity. I only want to sleep and dream happy dreams.

Evelyn Pappas, “148

A Sensor, Darkly

Bryant, who was named the 2015 Whistleblower of the Year by the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms, is an air force veteran. His memoir originally appeared in <em>Life in the Age of Drone Warfare</em>, which will be published next month by Duke University Press. The essay collection was edited by Lisa Parks and Caren Kaplan.