He had both hands covering his face, just the curls of his brown hair peeking out from around and below his thumbs. I was looking at a black and white picture in the newspaper, and I was transfixed. There were no words with the photo, but I heard a thousand things. A teenage boy, his face tilted up toward something, maybe away? I was small then, around four, and I asked my sister about him and she told me he was standing near to where his father had just been killed.
That photo haunts me still. I remember it, and I feel the weight of his ache, right in the pit of my stomach. When I hear that someone has lost a person vital to their life, I imagine a 50 pound brick being tied to their heart, and then the world tells them go on, just keep going, one foot in front of the other.
That's how you do it. Keep telling yourself, one foot, now pick up the other foot.
At night, I pray, for all those with loss in their lives, because there is a universal wish we have for each other, to take away the pain. The holidays, the months of November and December, make the missing of those we lost into such an inescapable void, that to one foot in front of the other keep going... how? Life now? Live? As if nothing has changed.
I pray at night for them, for treasured memories to surface and bring peace, for sweet snippets of time together to lull their eyes into such heaviness that in their sleep, their hearts are made light by tender visits in their dreams from those they love. I lay in the quiet, my hands on my pounding heart and I pray for hope, that they see the ones they miss being happy now, at rest, giving them reassurance in their gentle way, It's all going to be okay. I'm okay.
And when that middle of the too dark night comes and sits on their chest, when with eyes wide open, we stare out and only see the blackness, so pitch it disorients... I pray the hardest. For those moments that invite despair, I pray. For a light, just a small ray, to show them where they are, to feel a balance of their place again.
I pray for all of us with loss, that we recognize light, and see it. We just need a bit, something to shine even if it is just a pinpoint, to help us know where to look. I pray this every night, 24 hours apart, just 24 hours at a time, for them, for us, to make it through the hard work of life now, without them.
For the broken-hearted I pray, for one more day we manage here without them. So that day by day, there is family, friends, community, to remind them of life and joy, in places forgotten. I pray that when it is we who are in the lives of others, we hand them brick by brick, what they need to slowly rebuild.
Because a life that's been leveled is never simply just put back together. It has to be reconstructed. And that's too big a job, to be done alone.
|My mother, this past August, at the lake with my son, Xavier|
Written, with my nephew, Tomas Garrett, and my mother, Leonor Rosas, in my heart. We are missing you beyond words this year.
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