TaxidermyWhen your husband has Dementia, he dies twice. The first time he dies the most. His soul and brain go first. So what’s keeping him alive? Oh yeah, his organs. He’s a bag of organs.

But instead of burying him, you taxiderm him. You prop him up, and bathe him in warm soapy water and sniff him so hard you get a headache trying to smell past stale hallways and urine, trying to find what he used to smell like.

When his organs stop moving, it’s a relief. He’s free. When did you die, the first time or the second?

Valerie Maloof is a Boston-based writer. Her work has appeared in Tell Us a Story, Bartleby Snopes, and Jellyfish Review. She holds a BFA from Emerson College and hates writing 3rd-person biographies about herself.

Photo credit: Rick Moerloos


4 Responses to “Taxidermy”

  1. Nicole says:

    I love this! What a keen observation of the dual deaths of a person with dementia and which one sometimes hits hardest. And the freedom at the end, beautiful.

  2. Kayli says:

    Beautiful piece. Poetry from pain. Keep going.

  3. Jerry G says:

    Great piece, Valerie Maloof!

  4. Ellie Taylor says:

    Eerie and startling. Great piece!

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