Release Pain/Keep Memories Alive

Photograph of trees, sky, water.Time heals if we allow it; painful memories fade.

And as life unfolds new experiences, even the most exquisite moments impact less sharply. Yet around the New Year, old doors press to be opened—a time when photographs, diaries, film clips and voice cassettes become precious reminders.

Words are the tools that allow me to order my thoughts the best. They etch my innermost moments sharply. From time to time, I read them to myself and allow the flood of painful and poignant feelings to wash me clean. My personal prose and poems adjust my perspective. They show me where I’ve been and allow me to reflect on what has made me the way I am.

When my mother died just over a year ago, massive pain tore itself from my belly to settle on a written page. A gentle poem followed almost immediately that spoke of an exquisite moment shared with my mother and sister—one that I never want to forget.

Facets of Finality

No, I don’t care if she’s dead. I want to phone her and talk to her. After I finish talking, it’s okay, she can be dead again. An umbilical cord has been cut with the serrated edge of a broken bottle. It’s still bleeding. I want to tell her.

Joyous starts and long-standing reflexes are being aborted. I’m stuffing back pregnant surges, again and again, into a black cavern, basting it shut with a quick stitch only to feel it burst open, again and again—the afterbirth of death trying to cleanse deep crimson to a rosier hue.

But memories gather dust so quickly. Can’t I just touch and bring back the shine…go over the river and through the woods to a house that’s not on the market where a silent ghost now greets prospective buyers… where once the aroma of potted steak, stuffed cabbage and garlicky smells flew all the way to the front yard from the warm welcoming kitchen… the yard where, in her vibrant youth, mom built up her property with wheel barrow after wheel barrow of topsoil scraped, shovel by shovel, from the woods behind our house? We counted ninety loads, in all, one day.

An indomitable spirit, undaunted by time and illness, stubbornly hoarding sentimental bric-a-brac – carefully cradled baby shoes, locks of hair and hand-crocheted coverlets.

Precious sights and scents will distance. Our lives will gradually reorder, except for those momentary, inundating tsunamis, the intense shock-waves that ebb and flow when someone you love has just left your realm of existence.

We Sang

We sang to her,
My sister and I,
The night before she died.
Sweet lullabies,
Broadway hits and show tunes,
Hungarian ditties.
Songs she sang to us as children.

My sister held one hand,
I the other,
The darkened room well-lit with love,
My sister for me,
I for my sister,
My mother for both of us
And we for her.

Holding tightly,
We softly sang for hours
All the songs we could remember,
Sweet lullabies,
Broadway hits and show tunes,
Hungarian ditties.
Songs she sang to us as children.

Traveling, most of the time
Forward through the veil
And back again,
She only smiled.
Her eyes were in the mist.

And then she said,
“I think it’s time
For all of us to go to bed.”

Holding handw

From The Soy Young Newsletter,
an Anti-Aging Press publication.
Vol.1, No.5., January – February, 1997


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