Tag: #sadness

written by Susan
February 3, 2022 0

Don’t go, I thought. There’s so much you’re going to miss.

I see your eyes, and although they don’t move from their skyward haunt, I imagine that you are there—just waiting to breathe. Waiting for me to start your heart again because it must have been a whim that it stopped in the first place. It was a game that you were playing to get me to come play with you in the middle of the night like you so often wanted. 

I used to stay up all night and wander the house. Creep from my room and check the fridge just in case something new and appealing hit my nose. I never knew if my shuffling in the kitchen woke you up or if you waited for me, but as I rolled my feet like a cereal ninja, I would hear your soft laugh. So I would deviate and kiss your peach fuzz forehead. Cover you up if you were cold, pull them down if you were hot. You loved when I would flip your pillow so you could feel the cool side. Always before I left, I would kneel on the floor and put my head on your chest. Like we practiced so many times, your arms would wrap around my head and give me a hug that I knew took all your concentration. 

I always felt safe hearing your heartbeat when we hugged, something I relied on since you were a baby slung haphazardly over my shoulder. You loved that when everyone treated you so carefully as if you would break, that I held you like a sack of potatoes. You learned that way to hang on to Sissy. To wrap your arms around my neck and your legs around my waist and hang on with everything you had and laugh about it.

That’s all I wanted. 

For you to hang on while I fixed everything. To breathe and look at me and tell me that it’s alright that I didn’t wake up last night. To let me hear your heartbeat one more time while I hugged you.

To ask you not to go, because there’s so much that I am going to miss.

written by Susan
July 27, 2021 0

What’s wrong?
Nothing. Everything.
Things that can’t be mopped;
Sanitized by Jesus in a fit of mercy
but can be carried like a cellphone
and ring just as much.

Where do we go?
Nowhere. Everywhere.
Science can identify germs;
Split the smallest piece of life,
But cannot say with any certainty
What happens when we die.

What do we know?
Nothing. Everything.
By looking into the lonely darkness
The Hubble telescope found thousands
Of us. Thousands of questions looking
Back at us asking: What’s wrong?

written by Susan
March 13, 2019 0

All semester I’ve been asking myself one question. How do I get it back? I’ve asked a few people and besides the initial counter-question: “How do you get what back?”—No one seems to know. Even after explaining it, they still don’t seem to understand. Those who have had it and lost it seem to throw down the whole experience and bury it deeper than Atlantis.

Deeper than that. So deep that I think it becomes a phobia. When the conversation starts to cross River Styx, people shrink back as if they might drown. I think I understand. I often feel like I’m drowning too. I’m too busy saving myself to save anyone else.

I found a friend in a tree outside my bus window. He looked particularly lonely like the bird that carried its seed to plant it must have been a hero on an epic journey. That sounds nice, but honestly, it was only alone because it was surrounded by paved parking lots— which if you are setting out to humanize a tree, I’d found a gem. The poor thing had probably been grown elsewhere with lots of brothers and sisters before it was uprooted and separated. Shipped and then dipped into this hole dug just for him. Then every year he grew the prettiest leaves that he could until they too left him alone.

His branches were naked and they shuddered with each wind. I tried asking him the question and I got nothing but the biting wind on my cheeks. I expected as much. 

How did he do it? I couldn’t take my eyes off him. Every year he lost all his leaves and then grew them back as nothing had happened. I had lost my two brothers and my mother wouldn’t be far behind. Three leaves off my tree and I felt like everything was gone. My future fell with my younger brother. I drove around wondering if God would do me a favor and take me sooner rather than later. I didn’t want him to be alone up there and more than anything I was terrified that he was just gone. But I still stopped at each stop sign. I still ate, though there was a voice in my head that asked how I could eat another bite.

Then I had a dream. I was looking at a white picket fence that I had installed on my own and there was a small thin gap between the boards where I had measured wrong. It didn’t look right. From behind me, my brother who had no voice in life, handed me what I would find out later was a glue gun and a metallic piece and said, “I don’t know how it works but it’s this one.” I told my step-dad about it and he said, “He always liked to watch me work.”

I’d thought I’d found it that night—that naive happiness that the future holds some precious plan; some beauty to work towards. That climax of life that everything after it will just be icing on the cake. A retirement of leisure waiting to die a peaceful death like my grandparents had. I hugged Mom and told her that our lives are not our own and that everything would be okay. God must have a plan. There must be something.

Four months later Mom got sick enough that I thought she was dying. One trip to the emergency room and I found out that she was. I am reminded of that tree now pretty often. When I finish cooking something Mom probably won’t eat, when I walk to class, when I sit and eat, when I lay down at night. One month after that, my older and only remaining brother died suddenly while getting a cyst on his leg lanced in a regular office visit.
    How do I get it back?

Last night I was going through boxes from our most recent move and I found a tiny red leather-bound copy of The Rubaiyat by Omar Khayyam. I put it to the side and forgot about it for a while. Then when I laid down, I opened it up expecting something similar to sayings from Confucius but found this instead:

Myself when young did eagerly frequent
Doctor and Saint, and heard great argument
About it and about: but evermore
Came out by the same door where-in I went.

It may be different for each of us, but I read the last line and realized the truth of it. Regardless of what I believe today or what I believe tomorrow, when we die we all return from where we came. And that, in itself, is not- nothing. It’s something.