The Mending Word

The Mending Word: Part 4

Writings shared from the fourth session. Prompt: Letters to My Loved Ones.

A Letter To My Friends I Loved Before I Was Orphaned: 
I am not the same person I was before I lost my parents.
I don’t know what to say, 
Other than 
She is long gone. 
I don’t expect you to understand, as I don’t either.
And I can’t offer suggestions 
Of alternative activities, to what we used to do
Because I don’t know 
If it will “work”. 
If I will be happy
Even if we change our plans 
To amend my “situation”
Because my grief, sorrows, and fear will follow me even then. 
But what I do know 
Is I need you to love me amongst this transition 
From child to parent-less
Because I can’t imagine losing you, too. 
But you have to be okay 
With being in the driver's seat 
Of a car 
That is heading in a random direction 
Only to crash 
And you must be ready 
To pick up the pieces of me 
Every single time it does. 
- Larissa Claire
A Letter To My Partner, Who Will Never Meet My Parents: 
You might want me to tell you they would love you,
Which is easy - because they would.
But what I want to tell you is how 
Incredible it was 
To be loved by them.
I also want to say, I’m sorry 
That you never met her 
The girl, with parents. 
She was spontaneous
And incredibly strong. 
She would surely out run you 
And out wit you 
As she spent all of her time building her physical and intellectual self 
Up from the ground 
That her parents lay for her. 
Now she is scared 
Of everything.
Death, mostly 
But also of loving too hard
And hurting too much
And risking it all
And still, of death mostly. 
You’re getting to know the me now - 
The me that I don’t even know. 
Do you like her? Is she beautiful? 
Tell me about her, 
And I will listen with new ears 
As if I was just born 
And had not yet lived. 
Yes, my parents would love you 
But they would also love me,
If they were still here
And it’s that I want the most
To tell and be told 
I am a child, still. 
And that my parents would love me 
If they were still here. 
- Larissa Claire @missy.rissy
Dear Stranger on The Train,
I know you think maybe I had a bad day because I’m crying on the train, but it’s really not a bad day, it’s just that I’m looking at photos again of my parents and remembering the way their eyes looked when they laughed. And dear person at the grocery store, maybe you think I’m okay because I gave you a smile when you gave me my fruits and vegetables, but really it’s taken all my strength to prepare for meals that I’d rather not be eating if I could just be sleeping instead.
And dear boss, just because I’m on time in the mornings doesn’t mean I didn’t toss and turn all night, restless from anxiety and depression, from shutting my eyes from the image of my mother’s dying breath or my father’s crying eyes, can’t you see I can’t sleep?
Dear friend whose plans I just canceled,
Can’t you tell me, “hey, don’t worry about it. You don’t have to go out. Can I come over and give you a hug or hold your hand through the pain?  I know it’s been a few months, but I’m sure you still need me.” But you couldn’t say that, when it’s already been almost 5 months, surely I’m over it by now? Surely my father’s body has already become one with the earth. 
Has it?
And two years, my, surely I can’t still be missing my mother every goddamn second of every goddamn day. Of course not friend, I wouldn’t dream of it.
And why would everyone else that I communicate with on a daily basis be thinking of this, right? I can’t blame them for saying the most ridiculous things. For having the audacity to complain about their parents, for thinking it’s okay to start a sentence with, “don’t you love when parents..”
No, sweetie, I don’t. I don’t get to make jokes about parents. I don’t get to love anything about parents because I don’t have any. But I know, I can’t be thinking this. Because people only really think about themselves, don't they? We’re all just selfish beings until it happens to us. Even then, we’re still mainly concerned with our own pain, aren’t we? As much as we’d like to pretend otherwise? I would like to think that I would be the same even if I didn’t lose anyone. I would be conscious of my words and actions, but I can’t really say that can I? Because I don't remember anything about the thoughts of the girl who had parents anymore. I don’t remember anything about her at all. 
To the world,

I wonder what you see when you look at me. Can you tell? Can you see it in my eyes? When I’m on the train, and my forehead suddenly creases, can you tell it’s from the unwelcome memory of my mother’s final moments filling up my brain, my body? When you see me laughing at a party, do you know I’m lying in bed later that night, frozen with fear, filled with images of my father’s suffering? When you see me at a work meeting, polite and professional, do you know I have to turn off my video and mute my mic because I’m suddenly crying - stupid tears inconveniently timed for a Wednesday morning? Can you see the things I’ve seen? Is it in the way my body will tense up sometimes without warning? World, do you know what I’ve been through? No. How can you? No one will ever know. Just me. Don’t think I don’t hate you for it, your blissful ignorance. It has infuriated me, but I have come to accept that no one will ever know, until they know.

Love, (but please don’t stare)

To the children who just lost their father,
This is living with grief.
I want you to know that I know how you feel, and I also know that statement can seem insensitive even from one who has experienced a similar loss. My father slowly died and for you he simply didn’t wake up. Having your father read you a bedtime story with a kiss goodnight, and him simply disappearing into a white tallit and a grave in the morning.
Time cannot be comprehended. All you hear is “it will get better with time” but you can’t imagine life without them. It doesn’t get better, the hole they left stays the same and you just grow around it.
No one told me to take my time, so take your time. The societal norm is to keep it quiet, brush it off, but take your time.
Cry when you need to. 
Listen to the songs they loved, make their favorite food and share it with a friend, it can help. Your camera roll will be filled with photos of the people you love or just really pretty grass, because it’s the small and simple things that bring him back, even for a moment.
It will be hard and it won’t end, grief is a phantom that lives with you now. There will be moments that you will forget and you will open your phone searching for their number or looking for a text message that they never sent you.
Guilt will accompany the lack of memories. You will forget what their voice sounded like, their smell, the way their hugs felt. I don’t know what to do about guilt, you feel as if you’re abandoning them slowly (the same way they left you). Guilt reminds you that all your memories are just a memory of the last time you remembered them. The only solace is to cry as you lose the last of them.
However the redemption grief has given me, is living a life they would have wanted you to live. Spend as much time as possible with the people you love, take as many photos/videos as you can. Lead a life filled with love and forgiveness.
We can’t control when people leave or when we leave, but we can hold each other's hand as we go.
Dear little brother,

I worry about you.
I worry that you’ll forget her. 
I worry that you’ll be mad at me when you grow up because before mommy died we kept a lot of things from you that could have helped you process what happened - I wanted to tell you at the time, but it really doesn’t matter now does it.

You might not remember even though it’s only been three years, but then again you were 10 years old and I wouldn’t expect more - my memory fails me all the time.

Let me remind you. You saw mommy 10 days before she passed away. It was a rare visit for you and Mommy was delighted that we brought you with us. She was up and we walked to the visiting room too. At this point she couldn’t talk very well so she kept mostly quiet. She did however, make sure to whisper to you a raspy “I love you” before you left. 

That night I stayed late with her to take care of her. I sat with her at the window overlooking the city and the starry night sky. I told her you were gonna be okay - she didn’t have to tell me - I knew you were her upmost concern.

You didn’t know she was going to die so soon after. There was no warning and a child wouldn’t see the signs.
I spoke to the whole family and I told them “we need to tell the kids now.” But they really wanted a psychologist there when we told you.

In the end we took mommy home from the hospital 2 days before she died when the doctors gave up. 

The look on your face - I will never ever forget. You almost didn’t recognize her - the shell of who she was. I Hope you don’t remember her this way.

I want you to remember how much she loved you. I want you to know that she would want you to believe that she is with you right now. If there is another dimension where souls go, she’s there watching you. I know it’s probably far fetched but I like to believe it.

If you don’t, test it out sometimes like I do. See a pretty bird, or butterfly outside? Talk to it. Sometimes I tell the butterflies, if you have her soul, fly towards me. So far it hasn’t worked but maybe it’s just been the wrong butterflies 🙂

The kind of mother we had - a woman with the purest of intention. Someone who was always kind spirited without a mean bone in her body. She would give hugs out freely and loved unconditionally- I hope you can feel that love. I hope you can embody that love.

I don’t know when you will come to process the grief you inevitably carry, maybe you already are. I hope when the time comes, that you know I am here for you, to cry with you, to share memories with you, and to hold your hand. 

It’s almost your bar mitzvah so they’ll call you a man. Mommy would not want you to grow up so fast. Enjoy your youth. Explore the world. Make friends and see new places.

I don’t know what she’d say to you on this day and we won’t know because she didn’t have enough time to write you letters. But I just know she would be prouder than anyone. She prayed for you every day - even before you were born. 

I promised her I’d care for you and I will. I’ll always be here for you brother and you’ll always have a home with me. 

I love you.
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