She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies . . .
Lord Byron (George Gordon)
When I was 13 I sketched my mother’s profile in church. Regal, she sat with her chin tilted upward, receiving enlightenment from the pulpit, her features arranged serenely. Thick, auburn hair hung past her shoulders. The long feathered bangs of 1976 framed her face. To me she was breathtaking. She was the sum of her parts and more; soft hands that soothed, full lips that pressed to a fevered forehead, arms that embraced, a gentle voice that lulled away hurt.
Today the pencil drawing, its edges burnt and the pulp decoupaged onto wood, hangs in her apartment, my adoration for her captured; a living thing. From floor to ceiling, photographs of her children line the walls. She wraps us around her like armor to do battle with her longtime companion, multiple sclerosis. From 2,000 miles away I resonate her pain. I mourn her loss, little by little. Attacking itself, her body betrays; her mind, too, keeping its secrets and misplacing her memories.
Brother and sister,
together as friends,
Ready to face
whatever life sends.
Joy and laughter
or tears and strife.
Holding hands tightly
as we dance through life.Suzie Huitt
Flying over New Mexico on my way to Phoenix, I peer through the airplane’s small window, taking in the vastness of the red rocks below. I’m going home to the desert. To the funeral of my brother’s son.
People in my life keep leaving. They move away or change. Or die. Sometimes they stop answering my calls. Abruptly, they’re just gone. I don’t know why this keeps taking me by surprise or why the blow to my heart doesn’t diminish with its recurrence. I’ve been collecting losses and abandonment along my path like souvenirs on a trip.
I can’t seem to find my way through the loss. Pain, heavy and suffocating, has set up residence in my chest. Not long ago, one sister lost her husband to cancer. Around the same time, a close friend died from suicide. My heart–the organ that pumps my blood and the seat of my emotions–hurts from so much grief. And now, this precious boy, not yet 21, is gone. He was only eight years old the last time I saw my nephew. Maybe it was I who abandoned him.