Loss?

The day was cold and dark and dreary, like that Longfellow poem. A crowd turned out, which was nice, objectively speaking, and I imagine you would have liked that. You had many friends, it seems, and your wife seemed genuinely upset at your parting. I followed you from a distance, not sure if I belong, half-sure you never wanted me there anyway.

I wanted to classify my thoughts and what feelings there were, but I have a hard time even finding a word. This can’t be loss, because I didn’t even know you. You left so long ago and made a whole new life, without much space for me or my sisters. Complicated, is how I feel.

I heard the scrape of wood against the dirt when they lowered you into the ground. The tears came, but I didn’t know what exactly to do with them. They seemed to be there without my invitation or desire. I wiped them, angry at myself. I have no claim of you. I have no right to mourn you, together with your family and your wife. Those tears are not right, they are little thieves of some other family’s mourning.

I cried a lot, when you left. I felt alone, I felt not good enough. I felt like you owed me a goodbye, an explanation. You didn’t of course. You did what was best for you and that made me so angry. I felt like you should have spared a thought for me as well. But you never wanted me anyhow. I must have been such a nuisance. You must have been so angry when I announced my unwanted little presence in the womb. Little bastard baby from a woman I’m not sure you ever really loved.

I paced the graveyard and then walked away from the proper mourners. My partner followed in silence, I suspect he was as confused by this all as I felt. I looked back at your family and I thought you must have had a pretty good life. That’s all we can hope for, any of us. A good life.

I remember when I was very, very little, you’d carry me on your shoulders. I didn’t understand why daddy doesn’t stay with us all the time, but it was something normal in my small, tiny world. You stayed more often and then you stayed all the time and we moved and I had a sister. And, long after you left and came back, and left and came back, there was another sister. I often wondered what made you stay with us for so long. Perhaps our parting would have been better, if you had left earlier. Perhaps it would hurt so much less if you hadn’t stayed ‘for the kids’.

The bench was cold and wet and my partner complained he was cold. I didn’t hear him, which was terrible of me. He is ill and should be in bed, not following my flight all over the graveyard. I felt out of place, like a discarded tissue. I sat there and let the curious looks of the few mourners who eventually walked past wash over me. Did any of them know I was your eldest? Remembered me from so long ago, when I was just a small, big-eyed presence hiding behind you?

You left more than once. And then you left forever. Such is life.

I came back when all the mourners were gone. I dropped one of your books of poetry in your grave. Tagore. A fitting companion to your afterlife. I cried a big, shuddering ugly gulp, then forced myself to stop. Even the tears I now shed feel stolen. This sorrow doesn’t belong to me, just like you never did.

I hope your family finds peace.

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