Mourning the Departed Among Us

loving-1207568_1920

When you hear a person talk about “losing someone,” death is likely the first thing that comes to mind.  There are, however, significant ways of “losing” a loved one to something other than death – something that feels an awful lot like a death, but the loved one remains alive.  That something may include imprisonment, a chronic debilitating illness, a shocking secret being revealed, hypocrisy being exposed, or a personality-altering event/experience like dementia, a stroke, a traumatic brain injury, addiction, or mental illness.  Whatever it is, your loved one is forever changed, and the person you knew, loved, and experienced prior to the cataclysmic event is gone.  It’s hard to find words to describe that kind of loss.

A couple of years ago, I wrote the following poem/song as a way of processing my grief over such a loss.  It encapsulates a good-bye that spanned a period of many years and went through several major stages.  (Saying good-bye to someone who is at once present and departed is anything but a straightforward business.)  Although the process of letting go was excruciating and often seemed never-ending, once I emerged from it, I found myself able for the first time to freely love and be present with the person who was actually in my life.  Looking back now, I realize I had completed a cycle of death, burial, and resurrection.


Good-Bye

I remember how it used to be
You were always there for me
with You I felt so safe
You were my hiding place

until

it seemed to change in a day
I knew you weren’t the same

I walked into the room and found you there –

spinning ’round
in your thoughts
that seemed to come from nowhere,

fighting with
all the dragons
that no one else could see

Where did You go?
Why did you leave?
Where did You go?
Where could You be?

I didn’t get to say goodbye

goodbye

I never meant to scare You
but there was nothing I could do
so there grew a kind of distance
a strange and awkward dance

when I’d come home, you’d be there,
sitting sideways in your chair

I’d tiptoe in and there you’d be again –

spinning ’round
in your thoughts
that seemed to come from nowhere,
fighting with
all the dragons
that no one else could see

Where did You go?
Why did You leave?
Where did You go?
Where could You be?

I never got to say good-bye

goodbye

goodbye to lazy summer days
goodbye to bedtime lullabies
goodbye to chasing after fireflies;
goodbye to talks we never had
to building castles in the sand
goodbye to reaching up to grab your hand.

goodbye, goodbye

goodbye to days of playing chase
to being rescued from distress
goodbye to kisses on my tear-stained face;
goodbye to time we never shared
to running to you when I was scared
goodbye to saying, “Daddy, look at Me.”

goodbye, goodbye, goodbye,
goodbye, goodbye, goodbye…

Goodbye
So long
Farewell.

Copyright © 2016 by Judy Wu Dominick. All rights reserved.

Advertisements


Categories: Poetry, Spiritual Formation, Uncategorized

Tags: , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: