Last Rites

You lay before me, so still

Skin pallid, and lips the blue of twilight.

Your face inaminate,

No quirked eyebrow or mischievous smile.

Your absence is still incomprehensible

In the light of this terrible morning.

I kiss your cool forehead,

Thinking of the trials and turmoil,

Of  this path of pain we travelled together.

When everyone left, it was always you and I who remained,

to weather the storms of illness, or some new loss from your traitorous genes.

And here we are again my love.

I always said I would do anything for you,

From love, and for steadfast presence in all the difficult moments.

So I begin this, knowing only that it is a testament

Of my love for you.

Slowly, I bend to reach the basin,

Warm, soapy water slipping through my trembling fingers.

Washing your skin, tenderly, touching every scar.

Removing the tracheostomy tube, and the g-tube you hated so much

Wanting every artificial adjunct to your life

Out of your tortured body.

I would not, could not leave you now,

In these last moments together, that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

I will know that we had this time,

That I held you once again, as I did on that morning 20 years ago,

When we were still innocent and unknowing,

And our joy was untouched by sorrow.

Torn

Maybe if you are very sensitive,

Mourning must tear you apart,

And fling the pieces far away,

Leaving you broken for a time,

Difficult, defensive, vulnerable, fragile,

Until enough time passes

for the ground of your being to

Become fertile again in darkness,

To draw its’ precious nutrients into your heart,

To fill your empty breasts that still ache with remembrance,

So that you may start to rise,

To stand, tenuously at first,

Then stronger,

To take the first steps on the path,

To find yourself again.

The Empty Well

Grief is an empty well,

where the voice of the beloved echoes

but cannot be answered.

Grief is the silent sky,

after lightening cracks open the heavens,

and thunder shakes the earth.

Grief is grasping,

for something you can no longer hold,

that is just out of reach.

Grief is heavy,

austere and grim as a Puritan zealot,

who sees joy as sin.

Grief, harsh teacher, bitter companion,

who steals the treasure of hope,

who must be endured, the consequence of immeasurable love.

IMG_0762.jpg

For Dan

I don’t know how to say goodbye to you my dearest

and I don’t know how to greet a life without you.

Dew fogs the grass as the pink light of sunrise

floods through the windows.

I listen for the sounds of you in this still morning

the quiet of your absence surrounding me.

You are everywhere and nowhere,

waiting in still and silent moments, patient with the

futile busyness that keeps my pain at bay.

My sweet and gentle boy,

how we laughed and cried together at the absurdities

and cruelties of your life,

and at the frailties of your human keepers.

In weaker moments I beg you to return to me,

selfish, I know my darling, to ask

knowing the brutality of your final days with us,

the torment and tumult of those precious hours.

And still, you come to me, like a breath, like a pulse,

as the sighs and tears move through me

and I remember how you protected me

your facile, fragile mother,

and let me sleep beside you, let me hold you one last time

in the clinical light of the hospital monitors.

Another day without you.

Bitter, the absence of you, the taste of loss in my mouth.

Missing you so it feels my soul will break apart.

Just a box of you on the mantle in the living room,

a trace of you, but not.

I don’t know yet how to mine the beauty of your life,

to find the traces of silver,

threaded through the bedrock of your suffering.

That, at least, is over now my love.

The mourning dove sings from the rooftop,

while crows caw and chase away the night.

The memory of you cuts deeply,

etched into the landscape of my being.

Another day without you has begun.

 

Wanting mind

The wanting mind, always present, always asking

for things, so many things.

Intricately entwined in our DNA, our genes,

part of survival, instinctual, incessant.

Comprehending it is relatively simple,

but hearing it, the ceaseless nagging of it,

wears away at any state of contentment.

That is it’s job, to keep asking and asking

for things it can and cannot have.

And ours to deny it, to soothe it like a troubled child

and to sometimes say “Yes,” this time, “yes.”

Solitude

IMG_2163.jpgSome grief requires solitude.

An interval to withdraw from social norms and attempt to heal in silence the breech carved through you.

Words, speech, even listening is hard. The effort required to perform simple tasks, to risk reaching out, even to your most trusted loved ones is unbearable. Because they know.

They know your heart is ripped open, gushing sorrow. Their compassion and love make it even more real.

For their hearts are also broken. They too have lost a beloved.

Love, how the ache of it’s loss can overpower you. The longing for it so deep and impenetrable. The absence that will forever be a companion for us now.

A part of me that was good and true, has vanished, but the memories of it, of you, Dan, are all around me.

Please forgive me my dear ones if you find me mute. My body needs time to regenerate, to weave a soft spot to fill the hole promised to me all those years ago. You know that I love you, that I know you are also in pain and with what remains of my tattered heart I am with you.