Wednesday, July 20, 2011

death and the family.

a few years ago
I watched my grandma die.

about two years later
looking for answers and peace and a new story
I wrote about her
and how her leaving changed everything.

impossible to ignore
of course
was her ex-husband's place in the story.
a man I never met
and about whom I have nothing good to say.

when I wrote about her
I found it necessary to include him,
tangentially, at least,

but I could only write about his shadow
and the echoes he left behind in us.
because I didn't know him from birthday cards
or Thanksgiving dinners
or stories from the war:

I knew him only by his absence
and the holes he had carved.

what I had to say was cruel.
it was spiteful and made of vengeance
a retaliation for the people I loved
and despite its truth (or my understanding of it)
I think it
(like this)
may have caused some unintended collateral damage.

and then today
he died.
"the man I've never met" became "the man I'd never meet."

so now I look over those words
the fruit of my instinctive, vicious reflexes

and I hate myself for not being good enough
to want forgiveness.

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