Wrote this after reading W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues.”
Wrote this after reading W.H. Auden’s “Funeral Blues.”
My sister really struggled with her physical appearance. When she was healthy, she was a gorgeous little thing (maybe I’m biased but she was very pretty). Lupus took its toll on her, but when she received a kidney transplant her senior year of high school, she seemed to bounce back overnight. She became popular within two seconds and was living it up. She was just so darn cute, dressed in Abercrombie and Hollister (all very very cool back in the day).
Then, she lost the kidney.
Physically, she slowly deteriorated. She started to look sick…this got worse and worse as more health problems manifested themselves over time, and she had a really tough time accepting that or seeing past it. She would still buy all these cute outfits that no longer fit her body… They just waited, hanging in her closet, for the day she would be healthy again. These past two years, though, she had really given up. She couldn’t see past the sick to the beautiful girl that she still was. So, when I’d go home to visit, I would make her get out of her PJs and put on make-up to go out. I tried to treat her like a normal sister…meaning if my mom helped do her hair and it made her look like a five-year old…I said it looked stupid and fixed it. I wanted her so badly to feel pretty, again, to feel special…to feel normal, even if for five seconds. It was hard, though. Sometimes, I wished I could make myself look worse…so that she would feel better. I think towards the end, she was starting to see herself differently. At Christmas, she asked me to help her with her make-up (usually, I had to drag her into the bathroom). I got hopeful that she was starting to see through the sick…
That’s a long-winded explanation for this short poem…
I oh-so-proudly present my first poem!
Please do not have any higher expectations for this than you would for an elementary school child who has just learned about rhyming. I think this poem may evolve over time. Even now, I want to re-word some pieces of it, but as it has been typed up on a real typewriter – changing it would be a pain in the butt.
It’s about the passing of time…and my hate of it, because last week was her three month death date (I will work on finding a more eloquent way to say that.) I’m 29 years old and it hit me that there is a high likelihood that I may have more years without a sister than I did with…and I do not like this at all. Mainly because, well, she was supposed to be around, wasn’t she? She’s my frickin’ little sister. We were supposed to grow old and batty together. We were supposed to continue to fight and drive each other insane well into our old age to further prove Mom wrong (she claimed we would “grow out of fighting”). We were supposed to have so many years left together that we could even have a huge enough fight that we didn’t speak for a few of them. AGdfS%@#4FJ24er$(#$@#*Ufd!!!!!
Next week, my family is coming to visit to celebrate me finally finishing up grad school. I can’t help but get semi-depressed. This is the first family get together without her. In my head, I can’t stop thinking of how she should be there. Just like she should be there next year if I get married and if I have a baby. (If you know me personally, you know these are highly unlikely events, but still – she should be around just in case.) She’s just supposed to be there for the good and the bad, the ups and downs, and everything in-between. But all the “supposed to” in the world, can’t bring the brat back to me. And. I. Hate. It.
And I dread the day when I can say that I’ve had more time without her in my life than with her.
I have been reading poetry lately. (Don’t judge me!)
It’s rather shockingly helped, where practically nothing has. Maybe it’s simply because poetry is rather flexible to interpretation. It’s pretty easy to read a poem and somehow make it about me (narcissistic, are we? maybe a little).
In particular, I’ve been reading The Art of Losing, a collection of poems put together by Kevin Young. I recommend it 100 x 1 kazillion (yes, one whole kazillion). I consider myself at a fourth-grade reading level when it comes to poetry. I pretty much stopped at Shel Silverstein’s books and never progressed much further than that. But, as mentioned above, I find that I’m more often than not finding solace in some of these poet’s poetic poetry. I haven’t finished it yet for a few reasons – (1) I usually start crying; (2) I am trying to become a better reader/writer, which means I now read with a dictionary – so looking up words now and then slows things down a bit; and (3) I try to re-read them. Sometimes, I just blow through a poem if it seems uninteresting at the moment and really don’t give it the time/attention it deserves. So, the next time I pick up the book, I go back and re-read most of everything I read before and really have picked up on a lot more by doing that.
In the introduction to the book, the collector of this collection Kevin Young writes about the grief process: “…it brings out the best in us, and at times the worst, if only because it is utterly human. It can feel inevitable, but is so personal, so differently pitched for each, that it can reside across a great gulf. Yet poetry, like grief, can be the thing that bridges the gab between us, that brings us together and binds us.”
“…so differently pitched for each, that it can reside across a great gulf.”
Exactly. I just…ugh, I don’t know Kevin Young, but I just am in awe that he can write that as if he’s inside my brain. It’s worded so perfectly…as it should be, I guess, from a renown poet. I couldn’t feel more alone in this, which seems so ridiculous as most people have lost someone close to them. But we do all react or handle or deal with this so completely differently that, in the end, we’re not going through the same thing at all.
I go to grief pages or forums or FB pages and I try – but I do not – connect with the postings. I do not want to see a kazillion smiling puppies and quotes of hope or about God. That just doesn’t work for me. This poetry book does, though. Partly, because Kevin Young seems to get it and has put together a collection of amazing poems that even poetry illiterates can read. And, unfortunately, he does get it because he lost his father. Humbug to life…or rather to death.
Reading this book has inspired a new found appreciation for poetry in me – so much so that I’ve tried to write my own (which is probably at an abysmal second-grade writing level). I’ll save you from it for now, but expect to see my attempts soon, typed, ever-so-diligently on this pretty little typewriter.