My Mourning

by Janet Lee

They say my mourning has gone on long enough.

Those people who never came and sat beside your bed while your life slowly slipped away.

Those people who use their words as though there was some poetry in your death.
There was none.

And now there is a gaping hole where your life once sat.

They say I was lucky to have you as long as I did, those people who think grief is something which can be seen and measured, and my grieving should be less because we were together so long.

They say you were an old man and that is just the way of things. Then they walk away and talk of your death between their rounds of bowls or hands of bridge, when they pause for their tea and sandwiches.

‘I called to see her but she is not doing so well,’ I imagine they say, glad to have the news to tell, to play a part in my mourning.

One woman came and sang me that song from Fiddler on the Roof, the one which talks of sunrises and sunsets. I have no idea why.

But she meant to be kind.
Other friends came and sat, and held my hand.
They did not speak.
We had nothing to say.

I think of the nurses who cared for you. Who carried away the bloody fluid they drew from your belly. Who joked of this fluid as red wine and laughed, but were gentle with you, even as they hurt you. I suppose laughing was their way of coping with death.

I haven’t found my way of coping.

Friends say stupid things: that I should look for you in the clouds, or up in the sky, that you watch over me. They say I should feel your presence.

I don’t.
You are gone.

I saw the life leave your body in a slow mist.
The visits from the others are becoming less. They have paused long enough in their own busy lives. They have stopped and done the right thing, and patted and consoled and sung.

Now they leave me be.

They say I should keep the television on, the sound of the voices covering the quiet of yours.
But in truth you never spoke much.

I want to be able to grieve. To feel the emptiness. To savour the loss. To sit and mourn your passing. I want to feel the sadness of your death.

Quietly.
Alone.
I want to feel my heart breaking.
I want to cry.
I want emptiness.
I want my mourning.

6 months ago