Ever since I heard a story about someone’s mother pissing blood, turning up with advanced cancer and croaking I’ve been terrified to look into the toilet bowl after going. But tonight, I finally looked, and there was inky gray water, lake water, sort of slushing around, a tiny weather system inside of a porcelain cloud.

My grandfather started dying more than ten years ago. That’s when everybody first found out that he had lymphoma, the bad kind that takes you slowly. He’s been held together with scotch tape for the last few years, but somehow he and my grandmother have found dignity and a way to still drive an hour on Indiana state roads from their house on a lake to the nearest town where their doctors and extended family live.

I have a video of my grandfather and I walking across his property to the water I shot a few years back, before the weight left him. “Here’s where I’m going to build the dock,” he says on the video, pointing to a few tires visible through the surface. It’s that little stuff that’s kept him going, the thought of buying another place on Klinger Lake as a family summer home, of piecing together piers and harvesting.

He used to buy a new truck every year, and he had a string of Irish setters I’d see in the back of them over the years. Star, Misty. Then Gillie. When she died a few years ago my cousin Ross started to ask, “where’s Gill–” during the Christmas meal. He stopped himself, but anyone could have made the slip. Because she’d always just been around in one incarnation or another.