Today is the anniversary of the birth of, Krystina, a daughter of my dear friend, Anni. The following was written by Anni in 2002. I share it for Krystina, Anni, my son Ken, myself, and all mothers who have outlived their child.
If I really sat down and thought about it
Would I be able to put on paper the words?
Sanely, without self-pity, or sentimental prose, to tell of your life and your death.
To be able to take out from the inside of me, the thoughts and memories
which are still here?
Here in my heart, my fingers, my eyes and my ears,
each part of me has a different memory of you.
The look of you I see and the sound I hear is your voice or your laugh.
One month, six months – a decade
It makes absolutely no difference what the time span is.
People tell me time will lessen the pain.
Time will not lessen my pain, my sadness or my loss
In fact, it actually makes it worse because the futility of your death will always & ultimately rest with me.
You are my child – my responsibility – my love.
The only emotion, which does abate, is my anger.
Most of my real pain is rigidly suppressed
Underneath the plateaus of feelings too confrontational
Inside of me there are parts which are destroyed, not whole.
Where emotions & thoughts ceaselessly slip unannounced
into the reality which is known as day to day living
and which continues for each of us who love you.
But I keep all of this under control
With the psychological rigidity I am determined to maintain
I had not realised that my ability to control sorrow was so strong,
until, those few brief moments when I actually let myself exhale
and I feel for just the tiniest sensation, a wave of peace,
whether it was from a memory of some joyous thing –
An unexpected happiness which descends lightly upon me
Like the soft, consoling pat of comfort on my shoulder.
Or the scent and the touch of hair brushing past my cheek
Or a child’s innocent stare, quizzical, straight into my soul;
Or the sheer delightful sound of my grandchildren’s laughter.
That fantastic giggling, chuckling, chortling sound.
Or the sometime hedonistic abandonment to alcohol.
Or a descriptive passage from a book,
Words which verges on perfection and
Offering such hope to my spirit, no dark damnation.
Or the understanding of strangers who offer their experiences
Their commiseration – without judgement
Sometimes I stop whatever it is I am doing
Suddenly, for no reason
These moments are a puzzle to me
Because they bring with them a sense of expectancy,
Unfinished words, things not yet said, hanging on the air.
Hovering, waiting in a shadow just there ….in front of me,
A movement of air and that familiar voice.
With a “hey mum, look what…….” it seems so normal.
And the strangeness of this normality is quite acceptable to me
A funny something – unfathomable and consistent
This persists in hovering and constantly pushing at me.
All the while laughing deliciously into my ear,
Prompting me to remember arcane, shared conversations
Dreams are constant an accepted part of the night now.
Sleeping, falling into that blessed temporary blackness
Hoping it will remain just that – a comforting nothingness
somewhere between the sleeping and awakening
Then nadir returns.
The probing fingers of guilt look for the right nerve,
lingering there for just enough time
to touch the pit of my stomach and create a shriveling,
gnawing, inexplicable emptiness;
this approaches the same plane of panic and confusion
as often happened when you were here.
When the phone ringing in the early hours of morning
would startle me into alertness.
My fear as I grope through the darkness, absolute, suffocating fear
as I struggle to find the faceless, disembodied messenger who will tell me
Death has arrived.
You are lost to me.
My child is in peril.
Or sometimes it was your voice there
and a different, icy dread would claim me.
Your voice sometimes slurred and deceitful
Or whining and beseeching, angry and accusatory
When you were in the grips of your addiction.
Regret was part of your ongoing torment
and black addiction to a powerful and evil drug had won.
Sometimes you clawed your way upward,
triumphant for a short time;
but that short time was so rare
and became more and more elusive
until, inevitably there was no time left at all.
(Written by Anni Leppin)