Sorrow

My sister sent me this poem, which was featured dramatically in Godless [1], after a life Sekhnet and I both loved ended, like a candle blown out as gently as possible.   It is a beautiful poem and touches that climbing sorrow we feel at the death of those we deeply love, sorrow that crushes the lungs and makes breathing hard, the shadow of our own death drawing close.  Not only sorrow but the awe and terror we foolish mortals feel when death takes a soul we love.  I had difficulty reading it aloud to Sekhnet last night.  Today I am practicing.

Tis a Fearful Thing

Tis a fearful thing
to love what death can touch.

A fearful thing
to love, to hope, to dream, to be –
to be
and, oh, to lose.

A thing for fools, this,
And a holy thing,
a holy thing,
to love.

For your life has lived in me,
your laugh has lifted me,
your word was gift to me.

To remember this brings painful joy.

Tis a human thing, love,
a holy thing,
to love
what death has touched.

Yehuda HaLevi (1075 [or 1086]- 1141)

After my mother died, years of denying her approaching death from an aggressive, eventually untreatable cancer finally done, I was alone in her apartment.  I’d been alone there for the several days she was in hospice, but each previous night my mother had been alive.  Now I was alone in her apartment in the dark night and she was gone. 

I walked from room to room, looking at her things, the paintings she’d done that were on the walls, her books, the collected owl figurines in their custom-built glass and metal case.   

At one point I went into her walk-in closet, a little room where she must have gotten dressed after her shower.   Her housecoat and nightgowns were hanging on hangers along with her other clothes.  Her special orthopedic shoes were lined up on a shelf near the floor.  Her family photo albums were arranged on a high shelf.  The air in there smelled like the powder she dusted herself with.   The little room smelled like my mother.  My breath suddenly caught in my chest.  I felt like no air would ever go into my body again.  I felt overwhelmed by the grievous irrevocability of death, the reality that I would never see my mother again.   I stood there for a long moment, unable to take in a breath, sobbed hard for a few seconds, and walked back into the other room, probably to tap at the computer, as I am tapping now.

 

 

[1] a gripping drama, set in the old West, on Netflix

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