“I sometimes find it half a sin,
To put to words the grief I feel,
For words like nature, half reveal,
and half conceal the soul within,”
~ Alfred Tennyson, In Memoriam
For the past two months, I’ve tried to put the words in my head on to the page. None of it ever seemed right. It all seemed too dark, too depressing. But death is a part of life. We will all experience loss at some point in our lives and it will be something we will deal with in our own ways. For me, it was two months of radio silence.
I was too preoccupied dealing with the all the real life things you’d never think you’d have to deal with when someone dies, that anything creative just felt wrong.
In September of this year my sister passed away after a 9-year battle with breast cancer. Although she had lived with the disease for so long, and had been in remission a few times, her death was sudden to everyone that knew her.
My sister was always a private person. Never wanted to be a burden, or have anyone worry about her. But if she knew she was going to die, wouldn’t she want the chance to say goodbye?
My initial reaction was anger. Why would she keep this a secret from everyone? She had to have known, and if she knew she that things had gotten this bad, why didn’t she say anything?
My brother and I were the last of our family to see her before she passed. By the time we had gotten to the hospital they had put her into a coma and her organs were already shutting down. She couldn’t talk to us. She didn’t even know we were there. When had I last seen or talked to my sister? A month ago? Two months ago? Why didn’t I call to check in on her? Why didn’t she ask for help?
My brother and I had the chance to say goodbye, but my 9-year old niece never got the chance to say goodbye to her mom. Her last memory of her mother was probably getting on the school bus and waving to her, thinking she’d see her later that evening. Business as usual. Is that what she sees when she closes her eyes at night? Is that memory permanently etched into her soul now? I don’t know if something like that ever leaves you.
But once you get past the anger and frustration and remorse, what are you left with?