There’s a lot to do surrounding a death. Funerals to plan, flowers to choose, papers to sign, detritus to collect from wherever it landed at the The Moment. Emily Dickenson captured this odd busy-ness in “The Bustle In A House“.
But after that, after that comes the stillness. The list of things that are not happening. For me, that was an agonzing combination of good and bad. Habits I had formed to love and protect, and discoveries I made long after the departure that kept the wounds open for months.
But paying attention to what was no longer happening created space that I recognized as available for newer, more positive actions. At the time, I could only write it down – often as poetry. Only now can I place it here, a marker of another time that will not be forgotten but must be left behind.
There is no lunch to make
in the wee hours of the morning.
No scramble for boots and keys.
The washing machine gratefully empty
of oil- and dirt-stained jeans.
Countdown to supper hour has stopped,
the meals stretching for days,
Meted out one serving at a time.
And I dine, sometimes in the chair
by the fire, or with the next
Episode I’ve been assured I
Should not miss.
The night will stretch on. Quiet. Peaceful.
I will not sidle by your breath
to guess what state you are in.
There are no furtive trips to the basement now.
The bottle slid behind the furniture,
Our son’s toy box.
All found and thrown away,
But still stocked in my mind
On the shelves of our Yesterdays.
Only just now, I have stopped listening
for your car, the heavy steps outside,
the joyful chaos as the dogs race to greet you.