This is poetry I should have shared long ago, but the last line refused to present itself to me until this morning. There is so much I could say here, but I'll let the poem speak for itself--my absence of elaboration reflecting her painful absence from our lives.
* * *
Morning Came Without You
(In loving memory of Shirley Ann Mendez)
I never really wrote about your loss.
Somehow I could never find the words.
I never held you close enough
to understand the way I felt
when you were gone.
I tried to be the brick walls
surrounding the ones who loved you;
encircling them and keeping out chill winds
as they huddled in tears, unable to speak.
I attempted to fill the roles I was cast for.
I tried to pour myself without ego
into their empty cups;
to simply be whatever was needed,
no questions asked and no debt recorded.
I hope I did my job as well as
God must have wanted me to.
It kept me busy while your family
was busy losing you.
It was as if we had lost you twice,
plus multiple times over that month
as you fluttered in and out
Now we had no chance to hold your hand,
nor to whisper wishes in your ear;
to tell you that we would be all right,
though we knew it was a lie.
And surely I learned so much,
but I'd trade it all to bring you back—
though I know you deserve to fly free.
You gave me the gift of understanding,
to see what I had before it was gone.
You taught me love in your final hours;
how to stand in difficult moments,
and that bent does not mean broken.
The tears you brought to my eyes
gave me the clarity to see
what was right here all the time.
I wish you were here to see
all the good you have given me.
Alone I write,
but my words speak
for so many
who miss you.
I promise you we'll try
to move forward
with you in mind.
Every breath we take
will be built on your laughter;
on the memories of it
that echo through our lives.