Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Nine

Old griefs are strange things.
When grief is raw and bleeding it stops you like a bullet in the chest.

It usually knocks you off your feet. You're so shocked, so hurt, that you have to just lie there stunned while your mind and body explore the pain. It can take you weeks, months, sometime years to get back up. And when you do you often just crouch there with your eyes wide with the fear that the terrible blow will only strike you down again.

But when it doesn't, or after a "decent interval", you're expected to straighten up, to adjust your clothing to decently hide the wound and "carry on"; get back to life, work, get moving along.

And I should warn you that your children will have no pity for you. Children are merciless little monsters, having no feeling for pain other than their own, no patience with others' ancient griefs.

So those old wounds, those bygone griefs, come with you. Still there, the torn heart no longer open and bleeding, the tears no longer falling, but kept within you a frightful treasure, an unwanted secret, that rends you silently like a cancer, dark and deep within. In the rush to keep up with the living you lose the grace to mourn your dead.


And so it was this morning, the day that should have been your ninth birthday, my dear.

I didn't cry for you this morning

I couldn't even stop for more than a moment and think about you. I did post a little momento mori about you to my Facebook page, a very postmodern sort of cenotaph to your passing, but then I had to hurry and get your younger brother and sister off to school, and daycare, and the business of a busy day.

And then I had to get to myself work to afford them food and shelter and all their other wants, the LEGOs and the Barbies, the purple dresses and the six 8 boots. So you got lost, your special day almost forgotten.

And what seems even crueller is that so little of you remains. A handful of pictures, your ashes in the wooden matryoshka doll on the shelf, a tiny heartache in your mother's chest, the fullness of unshed tears in my eyes.

I'm sorry we can't have a happy birthday for you today, lovie. I'm sorry that you will never grow more than one day old. I can't be sorry for you, whose little life is now beyond all sorrow and hurt. But I'm sorry for your mother's pain, and my empty arms that a big, strong girl should be filling with life.And I always will be.

Bryn Rose Gellar 3/1/2002-3/2/2002

"The shadows fallen of years are nine.
Since heaven grew seven times more divine.
With thy soul entering, and the dearth.
Of souls on earth.
Grew sevenfold sadder, wanting one
Whose light of life, quenched here and done,
Burns there eternal as the sun."

~Swinburne

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