I have been feeling a bit sad today, just one of those low days really. I’ve been feeling a little more like that more often recently, while finding it difficult to explain. One explanation went something like:
“I was just looking at my drain sites and remembering that I used to have drains in, and it made me sad.”
I mean, doesn’t that sound a bit silly? I am sad because I am remembering something. I am sad for no reason other than I am thinking about something that happened in the past, and that isn’t happening anymore. I think it felt silly to me because it seems pointless to go over things in my head for no reason, and because in the context of what has happened, some of the things that have happened seem trivial. I suppose it is the idea that now that cancer is gone I should be happy. But of course I know it doesn’t work like that. I know that.
the earth is bone dry and cracked under the shade
of the trees, a desert in this full yet so deserted place.
Three times a year we would come when I was a child,
with plastic flowers or a wreath at Christmas. I filled
up the watering can at the tap and watch as mum and
dad cleared off dead leaves, forced metal plant supports
into the soil, hoped the rabbits wouldn’t come this time.
A vision of dad spitting onto a tissue to wipe the bird
muck off the grey granite. Grandmother visiting once
and declaring that this is no place for a child to be and
me silently agreeing as I stood at the sidelines, hands in
pockets. We scraped our shoes against the pavement
as we walked to get rid of some of the mud on those
rainy days. I wondered what they all felt and what that
was like and I still do, years later, coming by myself,
a visit partly because everyone else is in Spain and even
the dead should have visitors on their birthdays, and
partly because I want to see if I can feel something.
I don’t. I don’t feel grief and I can’t force myself to
feel it no matter how long I stand and stare at my
name and his engraved in the stone, at red and white
flowers I never would have chosen, at the gold cross
and the platitudes I hate. I don’t feel but as a by-product
of that I feel guilty for not feeling and I feel angry that
I can’t feel and I feel jealous of all the people who do
I have never felt numb and I have always psycho-analysed
myself and I have always known myself, but to not know
him, and to not feel for him – I don’t know what to do
with that so I sit on a bench and enjoy the sunshine and the
grass and think about how emotional I usually am and how
much I have grieved for myself but how today of all days
I can’t shed a single tear for him, not even a drop
to dampen the cracked, dry earth beneath my feet.
I have three poems in Bindweed Magazine! The poems are on the website right now and they will be in the print version of the magazine in October. You can read them here!
Two of these poems are about my brother and the middle one is about me and my parents trying to distract ourselves from my illness back in the day. So they are really important to me and I’m quite proud of them, so I’m very happy to have them published!
I had a dream we were going for a walk in the park
because that is what he enjoyed doing.
I don’t know if that is really true.
He might have hated walking.
They wanted me to come on the walk.
Mother, my niece, my nephews.
The kids saw it as a nice trip out.
I was not part of any of their experiences,
caught somewhere between being a
sibling and a stranger.
He mattered too much and not enough.
Here and not.
Known and not.
Mine and not.
I didn’t want to go on the walk,
or be with any of them
so while they got ready
I stood in the kitchen for ages
leaning on the countertop,
eyes glazed over, my blank stares
making the refrigerator feel uncomfortable.
Mother just laughed at me and asked
why I stood there for so long.
Yeah, I guess grief is the price you pay for love but though I’m sure I loved my brother as much as a baby possibly could, I don’t remember it and it’s as if he was never here at all. So I’ve paid the price in terms of grief, sort of, in a way, but I don’t feel like I got the pay off of love.
(Context: my big brother died when I was one year old. He was sixteen. I’m 29 and I’m still trying to figure this stuff out. I need someone to tell me how to grieve.)
I found someone who could probably empathise with the loss of my brother, who would know what it’s like to not remember a family member and not be able to grieve… and they are a fictional character! It’s Rodney from Only Fools and Horses, which my partner has been watching recently. I can definitely relate to this conversation, from S2E5: The Yellow Peril. Rodney and Del are sat by their mother’s grave. I bolded the important bit. If anyone else can relate, let me know. That would be sort of nice.