Poem: Forgetting You

24Nov13

Forgetting You
November 23, 2013

I’ll never forget you
You were everything I am, you and Dad
I could as soon forget my right arm.
I was not forgetting you when I forgot
In September, a specific date.
I forget now. I have to check the calendar
When you went

But it’s been about five years, I know —
Five since you left us
More since I saw you
I wasn’t willing you away, in those final months
I just couldn’t bear it
It was hardly you
I remembered you, not this person in that bed
In that place
You were already gone, or wanted to be
It hurt to see you
I haven’t forgotten Dad either
Six years for him now, last week.

I’ll never forget you
I remember your kindness, your ready laugh
Your ungodly self-sacrifice
Beyond belief, beyond reason
How much you did
How guilty it made me feel
I’ll never forget

I’m giving away that wreath today
That grapevine wreath you and Dad made
And gave to me
It has reminded me
Made me sad every time I’ve seen it
It is a housecleaning
A paring-down of accumulated possessions
Due for smaller quarters, consistent with my station in life
Like when you and Dad
Left the country home
And moved into that soulless retirement community
A nice little suburban street
With no one to talk to
And none of the old neighbors stopping by anymore
Because those who hadn’t already died had forgotten you
They had long been forgetting, even in the countryside
More so in town, and then in the nursing home

They didn’t forget you at the funerals
They came en masse
Especially for Dad, always the outgoing one
But for you too
So the wreath will depart
And I won’t be reminded
I won’t have forgotten you
I just won’t remember as often

I still think of you, I think, every day
Today, obviously, and also yesterday
Or maybe it was the day before; one can’t be sure
I remember your voice
Although not saying anything in particular
I remember how concerned you were for me
In general
And how you never called
Not because you didn’t care
I’m sure of that
But because calling wasn’t your way
I remember your brilliant smile on that photo at your funeral
A photo my sister took
A smile I never saw
Never quite that wide, that bright, that happy
Because I didn’t have kids
It doesn’t matter
I miss you terribly
Though what we would do if you were back, I don’t know
I would talk, tell stories
You would listen
Then we would go back to whatever we’d been doing
But that’s been decades ago, too
And, see, I haven’t forgotten

You were always part of my life
A nurturing part
A provider of safety, a cornerstone of trust
Of security and belonging
I think I belonged
But then I left, and that went away
I realized years later
And I was thenceforth a visitor
What was it like to be there? I have some frozen images
Some fragments of recall
But mostly I’ve forgotten
That was your world
I passed through it
And who we were, in it, I wasn’t sure
I’m still not sure

Five years have brought forgetting
Another five will bring more
And when I’m gone, that process will be nearly complete
Complete, but for the photos no one will see
And the moments of video no one will watch
I will never forget you
Though I won’t remember as clearly
But together, we will forget you
In a long and ultimately silent goodbye.

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One Response to “Poem: Forgetting You”

  1. 1 Ray Woodcock

    See also a video.


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