Sunday, April 17, 2016

#SOL16: No Parenthesis

Dark and Light (M.A. Reilly, Massachusetts, 2012)


There have been so many firsts this past week concerning our son and Rob's absence is always so much more present during these times.  He missed Devon getting his permit, visiting the first college with his son, taking 2 days of driving lessons, driving in the passenger seat of the car as Dev drove, and watching him pack a bag for a trip to Boston he will take without us. It's also been a tough week for Devon.  In the absence of school, he feels the loss of his father more.  We are hurting and I know we will continue to do so.

This pain circles back to more thoughts and I say, often aloud, that I will not, cannot allow myself to feel all of this, but I do. Not feeling is like trying to stop a river from running, from finding its own edges of containment. This pain is both blessing and curse, but even as the pain wells up I trust it is more blessing than not.  e.e cummings told us all, "since feeling is first..." And so it is. The thoughts that clutter my mind, break my heart are mostly of Rob passing. Sometimes it's an object that triggers a beautiful moment from our past--a sweater that smells like him or a pair of sunglasses I find in his car. And sometimes it is some other small imperceptible matter that opens me up to sorrow such as the way the late day light fell across the sofa 20 minutes ago and I remember Rob calling me in from the kitchen to see a similar light fading last October.

"You have to see this. Such an orange ball of light," he called to me. And drying my hands on a cloth, I am more pleased now to remember that I came to sit inside with him and watched.

But now, pain blooms too quickly. At these times, I try to speed the memory in an attempt to lessen its impact by seeing where it ends, where its devastation leaves me. But this does not work and I travel back to examine it, pick over it like an obsessed scientist dissecting a worm.

What did we talk about? I can't recall. Was I really present? Was I thinking about the dishes and if I had put up the dishwasher. What if I had known that this evening in October would be the last one we would watch the sunset, might I have been more present? And so on.

Rob's last hour on earth is seared in my mind like a loop I replay and it hurts to recall the slant of his head, the loosened jaw, the rattle, his eyes, only partially shut like a garage door that doesn't quite close all of the way. What was he seeing? What was my sweet husband minutes from leaving this earth seeing? Even now, the recollection wounds, my stomach clenches, my mouth grows watery, and I think I'll be sick.


This is a man who should have lived a long life. He did not. And most days I have trouble getting past that bold truth regardless of the flight of days that distance his death from now on a calendar. Time no longer works as it once did.

Poetry helps some and I smile a bit when I finish reading the e.e.cumming's poem--a poem I have read countless times and tonight its closing line strikes me differently than ever before.

                                            ...Don't cry
—the best gesture of my brain is less than
your eyelids' flutter which says
we are for each other: then
laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph 
and death i think is no parenthesis

No parenthesis


  1. Mary Ann, this line struck me as so deep, so undeniable filled with emotion: "Not feeling is like trying to stop a river from running, from finding its own edges of containment." No parenthesis is a a powerful statement. May you and your son fill your days with memories and new thoughts.


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