Tuesday, July 18, 2006
At Least She's Not Suffering
People say stupid things in the face of vast irremediable loss, so many that after my mother, one of my dearest friends, and my father died within a three year period, my friends told me that I should take notes and write a book, sort of in the spirit of What Not To Wear, except it would be How Not to Get Bitchslapped for Saying Stupid Shit to People in Deep Grief. Truth be told, though, nobody in deep grief is going to do any slapping mostly because of the numbness factor. Also, what is there to say? Everything true sounds trite, and there's only so much hugging one can be expected to endure at such a time. Sympathy cards fall into the predictable categories of hollow religious sentiment to arty quotes set against what advertising people call the "God shot," an idyllic nature scene involving rainbows and clouds. (Just for the record, I tend toward the latter.)
In the final assessment, I would never write such a book because I understood even then people were doing the best they could, and for all kindness, I am grateful. We console ourselves by creating meaning since death obliterates it. As for the sugar-coated cliches, those are fine too. Nobody wants to hear about my mother's long torturous battle with cancer or my friend's freakish accident or that my dad burned to death after the plane he was in hit a power line. So instead I'll fall back on what others have said -- my dad died doing something he loved, at least Hank lived more than most people do in such a short time, and as for my mother, at least she's not suffering.
Benedictions and Maledictions
"When I die, let it be in this way that everyone knows grief, not like a scorpion or a snake whose death brings all relief. " Khushal Khattak
one part cherry vodka
one part Godiva liqueur
Serve chilled in a martini glass.
First published in poetrybay:
Fill in the Blanks
They don't work anymore, my mother
said of her pain pills. The body can get
used to anything and does, the years
dulling the ride, leaving only the need.
You'd think I could stop, she'd say, but
I already knew what it was to be attached
to something that did nothing for you,
swallowing the same pill day after day,
hope, that old ball and chain, leaving you
marking answers long after you realize
you won't be able to finish the test.