Sunday, February 13, 2011

In her eyes

We buried my cousin's father yesterday. When I was small he was like my father too. And though it wasn't sudden, (the cancer ate him up), no one was really prepared.

The wake was difficult. Seeing my cousins. My familial peers, older now. So much older than I remember them. I'm older too, all of a sudden.

My uncle was the summertime. Fireworks and long afternoons full of laughter and beer. Kooky patents and tinkering with tools. A man who loved his garage and his dogs and his family. A man's man. At the wake there were flowers in the shape of the Yankees symbol.

At the funeral the next day I couldn't get to my cousin. Flanked by closer family she sat up front in the church. I focused on her beautiful long hair. Remembering how she used to make me sing her to sleep. And how she taught me how to blow dry my bangs so that they framed my face.

During the Catholic Mass (and others I'm sure) there is a moment when we are supposed to "wish each other peace." It's usually an awkward time when germ weary people are forced to touch one another. I kissed the people around me and then looked up to see what she was doing. She was staring right at me and the world stood still.

In my cousin's eyes there was a horror and a panic I won't soon forget. It made me want to crawl over the pews to her, breaking open the casket on the way so that I could shake my uncle and wake him up. To tell him "STOP" this stupid dying thing. Because she was hurting. Oh God how she was hurting.

We whispered love to each other through the silent stare. And I know, rationally, that she's okay. But that desperate weight of grief will make her stutter forever.

Time can make our hands and legs move again. Even our mouths. But the horror of pain stays in the heart and in the eyes. It's always fresh. And we move so that we may exist... always knowing a little of our breath is captured next to our father in the casket.



  1. How does life carry on amidst this kind of ending? Thinking of you, and your family.

  2. or, in my case, my mother in the casket.
    Thank you, Suzanne, you've put into words what I have felt but never had the words for.

    I do believe that they're not gone far, they're just a whisper away, but that whisper can be a huge distance in the early days.

  3. Hot damn, this is a good one. Sad, and very beautiful.

  4. A look can say so much more than words sometimes. A moment shared becomes a lifeline. Best wishes to you and yours as you take time to heal.

  5. I'm speechless at your artful description of the depth of loss for which words do not exist.

  6. Oh I'm sorry! But I have to say, I loved your voice and words. You can write, girl!!!

  7. Oh, Suzy, how perfect. You almost perfectly told something I lived just before Thanksgiving with the death of an aunt. Well done. It's painful, but you told it well.


  8. Oh, this is heartbreaking. Love and strength to you all. Suz

  9. I am so very sorry for your loss. Your expression of grief in this post is just exquisite. Grief eases with time, but sadly, the sense of loss is always with us just a little bit. Oh, and thank you for your lovely comment on my blog yesterday.

  10. I don't know what to say. Life takes some stuff. It eats some people. It buries others. Life is an achy thing.
    And then there is you and your ability to see through to others anyway.
    That's what makes you amazing.
    My heart is for you and your cousin. For your loss.

  11. Beautiful, heartbreaking. Thoughts and prayers with you and your family.

  12. My heart goes out to you all. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  13. Beatiful capturing of the moments. Took my breath away