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I took my leave because there’s nothing left to do. I thought I’d be more upset, saying goodbye for the last time and knowing it was finally, truly the last time. She moaned in agony. I patted her shoulder and left. I mumbled “I love you” on the way out.

I thought
I’ll be glad when she’s dead.

The guilty thoughts—wishing my aunt dead, not paying enough attention to her, not caring enough, thinking her a chore—I take them out of context so that I suffer more. So that I’ll suffer longer. Because she’s dead after all and I’m not. I tell myself that I wished her dead, as if I wished her dead in a vacuum. The context is she was dying. The context is she suffered and I wanted it to end. The context is I was selfish, but most people are. The context is my thoughts and reactions were completely understandable for a caregiver over the long haul. Death sucks, you do what you can.

The context is
she had cancer,
motherfucking, no-cure cancer.

The context is
I wished her dead, yes,
but. the thought. did. not. kill. her.

I didn’t put her away. I thought I would have. I thought I’d turned a corner.

For six weeks, an envelope with pictures of my dead aunt have been on my coffee table, waiting for me to do something with them. I have gotten teary-eyed just seeing the envelope. The last week has been especially difficult because I noticed that the pictures are halfway out of the envelope and the part I see is her exposed neck, her neck, the part that killed her. Or the cancer underneath. Whatever.

The pictures of her are when she was younger and healthier. Before she knew how she’d die or that the son (who was also in those pictures) would go before her.

I wrote her a letter before she died but didn’t get around to sending it. So I found it in my car, addressed and stamped, ready for her to read it. She’s not around to read it. She said she started a letter to me but couldn’t finish it because her hands were shaking so bad. I am sure the paper has been thrown away by now, but I’m haunted by what she may have said.

She told everyone I was her rock, but rocks don’t sob; they sit indifferent. And that I could never be.

The ache is always there but it gets better
It becomes bearable
It becomes livable

She meant the pain she felt for the loss of her son
Still her words come back to me
Because I remembered her today
I remembered when we breathed in the same room
Together
I remembered her pain and my own
I still feel her pain and my own

We will never again breathe in the same room
Together

I remembered her today
and I realized
again
how much I miss her

I read books and watch movies that are devastating to remember I’m not immune to being devastated, or to prove to myself that I can still be devastated.

 

The war books I’m reading…I can imagine what combat is like, the fear, the brutality, but what draws me in is that I know it’s much worse for the people there. I wonder how much suffering can a person take. How much can a person bear. It seems to me that no matter who wins, or who actually lives or dies on the battle field, everyone is fatally wounded. And that is devastating.

 

I watched a movie last night called The Boy in the Striped Pajamas. It is one of the most brutal movies I’ve ever seen. Not because there’s overt violence. It’s brutal because the audience becomes more than mindless viewers. They are forced to become witnesses, if not of life, then of death. The ending is merciless and renders you (as the audience) a helpless victim, who’s suddenly had their entire world vaporized and turned to ashes. It will leave you in stunned disbelief, saying “no, stop, this can’t be happening…”

SOB with me

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