I watched him do this for hours when I was about half his size....
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The night after wedges open--and tears.
I think of Salinger: His Franny, and her prayer:
Jesus, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
I never asked for mercy before.
An earlier draft of this poem, written 7 years ago, began with these lines: "Until I can sliver them out, until / I can face them / wholly, these shards must work their way out / on their own."
It was the last time I felt the way I do now, in grief. I wrote, "these shards must work their way out / on their own" because I remember then not being able to look at grief head-on, the way I don't look at it head-on very often right now--except when it overtakes me and forces me down on my bed. In the grappling, it pushes tears out my eyes, and sounds from my larynx. It swells my sinuses until my head pounds.
But most of the time right now, the way I let the shards work their way out on their own is by watching Alias reruns, sometimes until 1 in the morning, until my mind is so full of Sydney Bristow and her crazy FBI, double-agent life, that I can go to bed and not see my brother's gravel-skidded face, his blood that stained the ground on that country road, the stitches like treadmarks across his ear and skull, his body bloated by formaldehyde the day before the visitation. My mind will be so full of secret missions and bonfire-red wigs that I won't be able to miss seeing his living, ink-slung body cradling his seven-month-old baby girl. And I won't get lost--or caught--wondering what would have happened if I'd been at the hospital as he lay dying, if only a phone line had rung into my bedroom in the middle of the night, how I would have said goodbye or prayed for a miracle, how this might all feel different if I had.
If I wrap my mind around Agent Sydney Bristow, who lost her best friend to murder, and her other best friend to witness protection, and if I cry along with her when she tells Vaughn:" You wanna know how I am? I'm horrible. I am ripped apart,"--well, when I cry with her there, it feels like maybe one of those splinters dislodges just little bit, without my having to poke at it.
I have three seasons left to buy me more time.
I simply don't have a way to answer the questions that currently run through my head:
1) What was his experience as he lay dying, while still on life support, when his brain was showing no signs of life? Where was his spirit?
2) Was he in some earth/heaven limbo for those 7.5 hours?
3) Did he see a bright light/Jesus/God? I feel so Oprah for phrasing it this way.
4) In heaven, will Jesus let Henry know how much I love(/d) him? Will he be reminded how much we all loved him (because the death of one we love compels us to wonder such things)?
5) Or would this knowledge stay hidden in the shadows of whatever marvelous things happen in heaven? In other words, is it only the living who ask such questions?
5) Will my brother see us grieving here on earth? Will Jesus let him hear and watch his funeral service, the letter I read for him (because if he never hears it, what good does it do--after all, it was addressed to him)?
6) Why are these my questions?
6) Where are the wedding pictures of his I took two years ago on my digital camera? My husband and I cannot find them, despite tearful searching. (ok-so theology can't tackle that one.)
7) The last question is from my three-year old: Did his skateboard die, too?
*Thank you Ali for saying this is an appropriate response to grief.
Friday, July 18, 2008
If I could rewind time for a little while, the thing I might most want to do right now is find the room that belonged to you, first boy I ever loved, and sit and sit and breathe you in and pretend that you’ll be here in a few minutes, you’re just riding your moped home from the late shift at Taco Bell.
But since I can’t rewind, I guess I hope that in heaven you can do the equivalent of motorcycling down freeways in the middle of rolling fields and mountain passes. I hope there are endless warehouses full of art and building supplies (maybe ones you’ve never seen before), with which you can continue the art you began here on earth. When I get there, I hope you’ll show me your room and everything you’ve made.