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anne cunningham

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Sad Breathing
by anne cunningham

Friday, July 14, 2006
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Sad Breathing


 

It was choked back sobs
that woke me.
Not thunder.
It was my own tears,
streaming down my face.
Not rain.


In my dream,
my hand was on
your bony shoulder.
My lips brushed
your temple,
on their way to
kiss your cheek.
I whispered
my presence
into your ear.


I lie in wake now.

Another grief storm has
rolled in, unexpectedly.
Emotion forecasters,
mapped this out for me,
hospice workers
with informational brochures
about what turbulence
I might encounter on
my fight for flight,
accepting the wisdom
in your death.


Your final days,
I listened to
your breathing,
tracing circles on
your collar bone,
while you slept
under a blanket
of morphine.


Days on end,
you remained
sustained only by
short bursts out
and long breaths in.


It reminded me of
a child's sporadic,
interruptive breaths
after a fit of crying,
making me realize
the fight for death
over life
can be a lot
like a tantrum before
it works its way out.


You seemed
a laboring woman,
"huff-huff-blowing"
through childbirth.
It was no stretch, then,
to think of your death
as your own true birth.


When all the breath
had left your body,
and the nurse
confirmed you were
"gone," I remember
my heart felt whole,
where I had expected
a gaping wound might
appear in your place.


It confirmed all
you ever taught me,
everything I knew to
be true of life and love
and self and the
ProFOUNDness
of loss.


But, my dear one,
to wake in the night,
to a sound like thunder,
and have it be my
own choked emotions,
to feel the flood
of tears wash
down my face,
to realize the bony
shoulder upon which
my hand rested was
mine, a direct descendent
of you, your own ...


Well, Hazel Margaret,
it made for a rocky night flight!


I accept that
you are gone
to a far and
better place.
But last night,
I missed you,
to our very bones.


I know what you
must be thinking,
that I've gone
all soft and useless
around the edges,
and I've thrown
out everything
you ever gave me.


But remember
as I do.
I am your
daughter,
a grand one.
And I must
thank you
for your true
lesson in
a mother's
unconditional love,
although by generations,
twice removed.


Never mind that
it comes tonight,
this lesson,
in the form
of renewed
grief and loss.


It is my
thank you,
just the same.


Because I have
known your love,
I can grieve same,
Because I could
accept your love,
I can recognize
its need in my life;
I can give and take.


So never fear
for me,
this night
or any other.
I'm not scared
of night flying
thunderstorms
or my share
of grief
that falls like rain ...
...storm subsided.

 

 

****Artwork ..."Shoulder to Shoulder" by Nel Whatmore




 

 


 
 
 

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Reviewed by Gary Gebert 9/6/2008
A wonderful write Anne. You make it all so peaceful and warm...not so sad.

g~
Reviewed by Randall Barfield 10/26/2006
Sincere. If this is soft and useless, then don't lose it. Instead, work with it. Cheers
Reviewed by Felix Perry 7/14/2006
What a wonderful tribute are your tears and your words to someone who was so much a part of your life and you of her death. Well written and very intense look at loss.

Fee
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