Letting Go

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April 7th, 2018. Six years ago today, I lost my precious mum to pneumonia. She was the bravest, most selfless person I ever knew. Most of her life, she was ill and in pain, and yet she never complained. Like, not ever. She was my hero. She is my hero. If I could be a quarter of the person she was, I would be happy. She write poetry. Although our styles are very different, I inherited her love of all things literature. I thank her for that every day.

This is a poem I wrote about losing her …

Letting Go

I sit next to the 

sterile hospital bed and

wonder how she got this ill—

how I never noticed,

when I was supposed to look after her.

I watch as the angry mask

furiously forces air into her lungs,

her body slamming into the bed

with every blast.

Holding her lifeless hand,

I trace the misshapen 

fingers and thumbs.

Memories cascade before my eyes;

I am a grown-up child again,

five years old, taking care of my mum,

(my precious responsibility),

but I was selfish, 

all I wanted was a mum

who could play and run with me, lift me, 

hold me.

None of that matters now,

my sole desire is for a mum who can 

hear me, 

speak to me,

but I know she is lost forever,

so I turn to the doctor and

nod,

and the mask is removed;

the machines switched off.

I’m terrified as I watch her breaths—

almost imperceptible—

gradually fade to nothing.

She is still,

pain free, 

and I am broken.

I look to her face,

and in her very last breath 

she has smiled, 

and I know she has seen my dad,

the love of her life.

They are reunited in death,

and this comforts my shattered

heart.

 

Tears

I awoke this morning with this song in my head, and it’s created a tailspin of memories.

 

I don’t know why it was in my head. I haven’t heard it for years. But it was very firmly stuck on a loop in my mind.

I first heard this song when I was about ten, I think. It may not have been this version. I remember falling in love with the lyrics, and feeling like they could have been written about me. I think a small part of the ten-year-old me believed they were.

I learned at a very early age that tears were not acceptable. Actually, there was more than one reason why. My grandfather, firstly. (He always seems to work his way into first place, doesn’t he?) I don’t know exactly when I decided to stop giving him the satisfaction of seeing me cry, or begging him to stop. It was shortly after my sixth birthday. I remember that because Percy, my purple teddy bear, was still brand new, and I got him when I was six. I made a promise to myself to never let the monster see me cry again. I understood how much he got off on it. And so I stopped. I toughened up.

My dad comes second in the story of my lack of tears. He had no time for weakness, probably because it was the thing he hated most about himself. He told me on many occasions that I had to be a good girl and not cause any trouble. When I cried, he would mimic me. God, I hadn’t thought of that in a lot of years. It’s brought a lump to my throat right now. He belittled my fears and sadness by making fun of me. That’s so sad. He also told me that if I cried a lot or made a fuss or did anything vaguely naughty, he would take me to the children’s home and leave me there. I believed him with all of my heart.

I also couldn’t cry because of Mum. I don’t blame her for this. But she was always ill, and I had to be a grown-up five-year old and look after her. I was not allowed to upset her in any way, for fear of making her sicker.

So, I didn’t cry. At least, like this song; not out loud. Actually, I don’t think I really cried on the inside. I stopped feeling everything, except for fear. The world became a terrifying place. Nowhere was safe. Everything was always at stake. I felt on the brink of losing it all.

I saw a counsellor for a little while a few years ago. She told me I was the only patient she’d ever seen who didn’t cry once. Counselling, she said, is a fairly wet business. But I couldn’t cry.

When Dad died in 2007, something shifted. I cried for, like, a year. The slightest memory of him could send me into uncontrollable sobbing. I was an emotional wreck. I stayed really emotional for a few years after he died. I remember watching ‘The Green Mile’ and crying for about two hours after it finished! It was like I was making up for the decades of no tears. It was ugly.

Today, I am married to a wonderful man who I love with all my heart. But he criticised my tears so much that they are once again hidden. I feel them inside, bubbling under the surface. But that’s where they stay. It makes him angry if I express any sadness at random things (like TV shows or songs). I think it’s because he’s afraid of sadness. Anger is a much easier emotion for a man to feel.

Well, this was not the blog post I had planned for today. It’s been rather self-centred. But, it’s helped to write about it, so I guess that’s good, right? I’m sure there are people out there who can relate to this. To you all, I say: cry. If you need to cry, then do it. You’re emotions are yours to do with as you wish, and if that means having a good cry, then do it. Cry out loud!

 

Hobby Horse

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Hobby Horse

Her baby face fills with
mischief;
dark blue eyes sparkling,
newly grown teeth
poking through her smile;
delicate, blonde tendrils
dancing around her ears
as she rides her horse
that was once upon a time
just a broom.

Salt water stings my
cracked lips;
memory so raw
it bites into my flesh
and holds me captive.

I can smell the coconut
in her hair
and hear her
little-girl-giggles
as she jumps imaginary fences …

Why can’t I touch her?

Life: the saga that
lasted too long;
trapping her in sorrow,
leaving scar tissue
so delicate it
burns
in the sunlight.

These, her final thoughts,
are all that remain
of my baby—
these words and the
photograph atop the mantel
of my daughter
riding her horse.

Evil C

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Evil C

Poisonous cells
dividing, multiplying,
the equation of
loss
trampling our hearts.
This sum of
devastation
crawles over and under
our skin,
leaving numbers seared in memory
(one in three, one hundred per cent sure)
facts and false hopes,
tears and prayers,
strength tested and
broken,
life taken and tossed aside.

No matter how many times I do the maths,
the answer always lies in minus you,
with the addition of
heartbreak
thrown in for free.
Will the outcome ever change?
Will my bones ever stop
aching for you?
I think not.

 

  • For my Dad. 13/05/1935 ~ 21/09/2007.

Broken Heart

This is another poem I wrote in response to a prompt. This time, it was to write about the sad moments in life. Needless to say, I could relate to this one.

Broken Heart

It doesn’t matter how long you’re waiting for

the inevitable to crash through your life,

when it does, you aren’t prepared—

how can you be?—

how can anyone steady their resolve enough

to be ready to lose their loved one’s love

forever?

The thing nobody ever admits is

when parents say they will always be there for you,

they lie,

one day (maybe not so far away)

they will die and you

will crumple and watch—helpless—as

parts of you break off and float away,

and you won’t know how to put yourself

together again,

and you question if you even want to.

The world—always scary—

becomes a place in which you inhabit the periphery,

perching as far away from others as possible,

waiting to fall into the depths,

from where there is no going back.

But who cares?

The well-meaning people

(who have so much wisdom you want to

scream at them to

stop!)

tell you time heals,

and to remember the good times,

but don’t they know it’s the good times that are killing you?

Without the laughter and love and memories of

that video your Dad searched everywhere to find

when you were ill and he just wanted you to smile,

getting over it would be so much easier.

I’m not sure about the “loved and lost” theory,

I never could figure why pain is better than

nothing.

Still, I love,

and with all my heart.

How fracked up is that?

Ghosts of Christmas Past

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As the big day rapidly approaches, I can’t help but think of my parents and how much I miss them. Christmas was always a big, family time of year. My Mum loved the holiday, and her love filled the house. A big part of the joy from opening presents came from watching her face as I ripped the paper she had carefully wrapped. She smiled through every second of the day.

Things are different now. Mum is gone, and so is Dad. Christmas is a whole different affair, and their loss tugs at my heart even harder than usual. So I wrote this poem. Because, what better way to deal with my grief?

 

Ghosts of Christmas Past

I cast my eyes over our festive tree,
delicately graced with shimmering lights,
and my mind meanders
along winding lanes,
leading me back to
Christmases past.

The ghost of my mother
smiles at me,
anticipation lights up her face,
as her memory captures my reaction
to every gift;
so selfless, and now forever lost.

As I prepare our meal—
the most important of the year—
I feel sad it’s just for two,
but I can see the spectre of
my father,
sipping brandy,
rosy cheeked and laughing;
the warmth of his joy
tugs at my heart . . .
there used to be such happiness.

I return to this Christmas,
table settings are sparse, and
loneliness consumes me,
residual is the only love that stays.

My eyes tear at the sight of two                                                                                                                    empty chairs                                                                                                                                           I will feel their presence, see their smiles, and hope
my memories can keep them near.
These ghosts I love, as they loved me,
I’ll miss them for eternity.

In Dreams

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In Dreams

Dreams of Mum,
of insignificant moments,
playing out as though
real,
and in those moments
she walks and laughs and
sparkles,
her eyes—light blue—
smile as she listens to
conversations between Dad and
me.

The three of us,
alive,
together,
and it feels so natural,
so safe,
and then I wake,
and my dream fades to
dust
I’m left with an ache that
twists my insides,
it’s like losing them
all over again,
my mind can’t compute how
they were just here,
so real,
and now they’re gone,
leaving only a faded cine-film reel,
spluttering in my head
flashes of love,
unpindownable.

A lone tear
escapes
my heart . . .
what I wouldn’t give
for one more
insignificant
moment.

A Moment’s Love

My prompt for this poem was to include the words yellow, lemon, and sunny. The ingredients for a happy, joyful poem, surely? But my mind doesn’t work that way, and this is what I came up with . . .

Yellow Ribbon

A Moment’s Love

Six weeks, four days;
that’s how long since we
spoke
touched
loved.

I wander the length and breadth
of our house,
searching for a clue;
that hidden word,
that out-of-reach memory
that will tell me
why this happened.

Outside, the boot-sized weight of
your loss
stomps on my chest,
and crushes my resolve.
The sycamore-lined street
is awash with yellow reminders
tied around each bark—
lemon ribbons fluttering in the breeze,
mirroring my heart’s own beat,
slapping your loss across my face
and leaving fresh marks for all to see.

Six weeks, four days
since you last kissed my lips,
and I pushed you away, running late,
with no idea it would be the last time we
connected.

Your picture no longer accompanies
the ribbons tied in memory,
we found you too late
and discovered your fate,
and I think someone knew it would be
too much
for me to see your face every day
(like that doesn’t happen anyway!)
but the sunny tatters flowing in the wind
remain, and it fills my crumpled heart with
a moment’s love.