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{I Lost the Month of May: A poem} by Melody Harrison Hanson

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I lost the month of May
somewhere between watching my mother
suffer extreme pain and mental confusion.

I felt her pass by heavily; Time,
slowed to a crawl
as I was watching.
And now, the month of May is gone.

Time lost cannot be retrieved.
I know this as my friend’s cancer roars in wildly.
This third time more persistent.
And I am heavy with awareness that the months and days of her reprieve, I spent

weighed down with my life.

Gone is the month of May
on bursts of sudden energy, then

languishing in the dark.
Being strong and capable,

as my heart leaked lost time.

I watched the hours tick by at my mother’s bedside.

Time lost forever?
or time spent on forever.

Knowing forever is such a long time.

Friend love stretches on forever.
Mother-daughter love lasts forever too.

Each, a lifetime of forevers found,
to be savored. Still,
the month of May is spent,

costly. On loving.
Or is it simply lost and gone?

We are all lost and found.
I am a friend and daughter.
Love is here, there,
and gone.

As I sit here thinking
my heart is leaking
forever time.

{a message from my dead father}

Jumbles of words wake me up; clotting in me.  My body resists waking for it’s much too early.  This is my day-to-day litmus test.  How bad? Long before dawn, I am scanning for the gravity of my depression. I have always eavesdropped on myself in this way.

Somehow the heart knows, even if one has learned to shut it up, even when we deny it or work diligently to be fine in the daytime. But while asleep the soul’s true confession takes hold and those few moments before waking are clear.

The words woke me.  I need paper, pen. I am remembering Dad, how he held on to say goodbyes and even give us time to make amends.

What amends does mother need and with whom?  I push through cobwebs of my dream world; the sentience all but gone.

What were you saying, Daddy?

My daily reading in Bishop Edmond Lee Browning in A Year of Days says that we remember the dead, miss them, because we love them.

“This energy between us, the energy we call love is eternal. The soul is made of it, and it is set free from the compromises and disappointments we experience…” And, then, “They are now perfected, made entirely of the love we shared on earth and continue to share.”

It is difficult for me to imagine.

Tonya, me, Paula, and Holly with my father (L to R) in 1976.

I was a little girl longing for peace. I became invisible, on purpose. I was hoping it would help them. I disappeared into the fog, lost, alone, afraid of every turn.  Courage only came from him.  When he pushed.

I thought by disappearing I could make things better.

Recently, I have remembered frequently that day of waiting.  The endless wait to discover – would he die? Brain cancer was a death sentence and all I felt was glee, a dizzying freedom. I pierced my nose.

Silly, but somehow this marked the hour I started living. Soon I wouldn’t have to fear his

His recrimination,

disappointments

anger, even

rage.

His control and power. Her fear, his constant

pushing.

Soon he would be dead and we could live. I was glad.

In those murky, cotton filled minutes, the in-between of sleep and waking, my father was with me.

He was perfected, finally fully loved.  There was nothing to fear.

And he is gone again, but there’s a fragment here, he left for me.

It’s something we need.

He’s waiting for her, but he knows she needs more time.
…………

We’re all going to die.

My mother isn’t any closer to death than many older adults, but I realize as we face uncertainties that there are things that need finishing when you are married to a cruel, controlling megalomaniac, it is damaging to say the least.

As I sit here contemplating this visit from my father, I know full well it wasn’t really him actually visiting me in my dreams.  Perhaps my subconscious knows there are things that I can do to help my family bring needed closure, healing, last words, even forgiveness – I don’t know.

I remain open.

When my father was ill, I read a powerful and important book, Final Gifts, written by hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley. I learned a lot from their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life. It shaped me profoundly. I saw him hold on for certain goodbyes.  I saw him waiting for particular conversations.  And finally, I saw him go when he felt finished.

My father is a part of me.  He made me into what I am.

I stopped living out of fear and now I know I have to begin again.