I see them in my office, their look slightly haunted by the memories of having been here before, though not alone. Their fingers absent-mindedly trace the circle of their wedding band, as we talk not about their own illness, but about the struggle of getting up each day in a house grown bleak by absence. We talk about family, their church, support groups for the bereaved. They tell me how they all of a sudden look up from a book, wanting to read aloud the passage that struck them, and realizing, again, that the person who shared their days and nights all these years is no longer there. After each encounter like this, I come home and give my love an extra hard hug and a kiss, having been reminded once more how ephemeral our lives are, and how each moment of shared happiness is such a great gift. Loss is an inevitable part of our lives. The following poem speaks to this struggle.
i’m trying to follow your wishes
find something you love to do
and just go for it
we had plans
the future before the diagnosis
art and painting for me
politics for you.
but after five months
the artist brushes are heavy
they seem stuck in rubber cement and
moving them around the canvas
to put the paint down
i’m sure you’d say just push through
don’t get lost in your head.
easy words for you
i was there
when your screams reverberated through the city in the middle of the night
i was there
to hold you, to give you kisses
to whisper hope in your ear
yes you had plenty of friends and they were all very encouraging
but I was there
when death leaned hard and
you struggled to keep him hidden from friends and family
you’re not here now
to help me
when I could really use your hugs and whispers
to carry me along
and lighten the brushes
brighten the days
erase the clouds
when emptiness heaps up and
rushes over me
in an avalanche of loneliness.
Thanks Jorge I needed that! You stirred some atrophying gray matter a bit with this post. Your comments as well as the excellent poem by Mr. DeCicco provided some cranial rattling that felt good beneath my lawn care cap. The heavy spring work load seems to be taking a greater toll every year. It’s definitely interfering with greater enjoyments in my life. March is the month of both my parent’s death. Dad died on 03/20/1982 at age 57. Mom died on 03/07/2004 at age 75. She was 52 when Dad died. She never remarried.
Mom missed Dad. You could see it in her eyes, every year about this time. She stayed busy with her church and church friends. She became a volunteer counselor in a grief recovery group at church. She also volunteered with a local funeral home ministering anyway she could to survivors. She loved gardening and sunday dinners but, she was never able to fill the space Dad left in her life. He was a remarkable man but, that is another post for another time.
Dad was a diabetic. His first heart attack came 8 years earlier when he was 49. He recovered fully. Mom said the last 8 years were the best ever. During that time of recovery she told me that she began to pray that God would prepare her and him for the day death came calling to take one or the other away.
It was good advice. At some point we will all become the survivor or we will leave survivors.