My Father Died…

My Father Died…

My father David Cooper died April 4, 2018 of Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis, which he got from being in downtown Manhattan in the hours, days and weeks following the disaster of 9-11.  My dad would remember the hours after, the sky full of white particles, falling like snow, building materials from the huge towers.  He remembered moving northward, away from the site, with the crowds, and all they had to give people were wet paper towels to cover their mouths.

First diagnoses in 2012, my father has struggled with the disease for years.  At first doing pretty well, going to pulmonary rehab, wearing oxygen only when working, then, facing more and more difficulty breathing, until, for the past year or so, on constant oxygen at increasing levels, until he reached 15 liters at home, with numerous complications from the extended oxygen use.

My mother has been struggling with the world trade center relief organization; currently the financial assistance for IPF is far lower than most other disease categories and does not begin to cover the medical costs or suffering involved.

Dad, I wrote this for you when mom asked me to write something about your illness felt to me.  I’m sorry that I never got to read it to you.  I hope that you see it now.

Godspeed on your journey father.  I’ll see you “after.”  Love John




I was on the phone with my father

Trying to hear above the breath

That constantly eluded him


The noise went that surrounded

His every moment, every thought

Distracted and pulled into a wind

Of airful longing time and time again


We talked, with beauty

That happens sometimes

When one comes close to the veil

More beauty revealed

Something of the Kingdom

Hidden day to day

Peeks through those moments

Closer to eternity

Sometimes it takes suffering

To part the veil to see


Interrupted once again


It is hard for me to tell

The depth that this place goes

How far down can one ride

Without a deep breath of air?

How many moons can pass

Without a sigh?

How do we let go

When we can’t breathe?


In and out, ever reaching


I need to sit for a moment

He said, even though

We had only just stood

And walked a few feet

His chest constrained

I wondered again

How long can we live

Without a sigh?


I know what it’s like

To be imprisoned in a body

I said, gesturing with paralyzed hand

And he smiled, winking, twinkling at me

I am glad to know

A little about your prison

He said, and our hearts touched


Sometimes, it is in ache,

In loss, in that profundity of despair

We find connection


Make no mistake

There is a depth of loss

Even in the space of a gasp


The stunted breath of life

Lays like a shadow weight

Pulling down, further, further




(c) March 26, 2018, John D. Cooper

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