Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Brief Candle

She was smaller than I remembered, shrunken in upon herself. Her hair, which had always been neatly coiffed was cropped short and a little tousled. It had only been two years since I had seen her but it was as if she had aged twenty years in that time. It was that rapid aging, I think, that slapped me the hardest with the obvious truth. It's one thing to know intellectually of someones illness, it's quite another to witness it firsthand. My aunt is dying. She's dying and there's nothing to be done but watch. Nothing to do but wait and make small talk. Nothing and that's the hardest part to wrap my head around, because I'm a do-er, a fighter. It's excruciating, the passive waiting, the watching, but it's not my call how this ends. I am "but a poor player that struts and frets", and I only have a walk-on part in this particular tragedy.

She could only handle short visits, so the hubman and I left to let her take a nap before dinner. We headed to the woods near where I had lived, a park called Chestnut Ridge. My mother's parents had their ashes scattered there, so in a sense, I was visiting my grandparents, but also like them, I find solace and refuge more readily in nature than in a church. I went there to cry, to have it out with myself before I had to appear again at dinner time, with an outwardly happy appearance. I thought a lot about the past; of the years we did live closer, of the family rift that seems to only deepen with time, of our imminent mortality and what we leave behind, each of us, as a legacy to those we loved.

Did I have an epiphany and go back to shed the light of my enlightenment upon those less fortunate? God, no. What light does anyone really want shed upon their personal time of grief? I walked under the ancient and gnarled apple trees in the park, collecting their freshly fallen offering. I cried as the grief came to me in waves and leaned on the strong shoulder of my beloved. I took strength from nature's cyclical immortality, and knew the blessing it is just to be alive. I gathered myself enough to go back calm and serene, and to not cast the burden of my grief upon already weighted shoulders.

There was a moment when we parted that evening; I held her face in my hands. I smiled at her with all the love I could not articulate. We embraced for a long moment, and said goodbye.

15 comments:

bandick said...

But how wonderful that you had that time with her.

Chanda (aka Bea) said...

Like I said before, this was an absolutely beautiful piece, and it made me cry (again). Especially the last few lines.

I'm so glad you could take the time to go visit, even if it was difficult at times. I feel like it will ultimitely help when the time comes to mourn.

Maggie, Dammit said...

Oh, God.

Bravo.

(and I'm sorry, for you. For your impending loss.) :(

Bantering Bibliocrat said...

beautifully written. thanks for this.

csquaredplus3 said...

You moved me.

Keeping you, your Aunt, and all who love her in my thoughts and prayers.

- Chris

Ms.Q said...

Oh Honey,
I can't stop crying. This is such a sad beautiful post. My shoulder is here anytime you need to talk...God knows you have given me yours when I really needed it.
Love you, Ms. Q

Vodka Mom said...

that was very, very lovely.

catnip said...

I'm so glad you got to visit her. I know how much you wanted to. I hope it gives you some peace.

hele said...

"What light does anyone really want shed upon their personal time of grief?"

This line - so heartbreakingly true and therefore also filled with power, love and beauty. Thank you.

VelveetaWingnut said...

Always remember that moment of saying goodbye. You might not realize it now, but it will be the best gift you could have given to her...and to yourself.

Trust me...if that goodbye isnt there, it'll pain you forever.

Consider yourself blessed that you had that time with her and remember the good times.

luv ya cuz.

Gypsy said...

These are such powerful, evocative words.

Thinking of you.

FairiesNest said...

Beautifully written. I actually read this when you first posted but had such a strong response that I couldn't comment. I'm glad you went...still dealing with my own issues...

tysdaddy said...

Sometimes, the mere presence of others is balm enough for the sick. No words. Just being there. I'm trying to do this with my grandfather, but the distance makes it tough . . .

Ben and Bennie said...

Whoa. Heavy, girlfriend. Beautiful post.

Jennifer H said...

Oh honey. I'm sorry to come upon this post so long after you posted...and I'm so sorry for the loss you're already feeling, and for what you will feel when it happens.

Sending good thoughts and a big hug.

(Beautiful, beautiful writing, my friend.)