Slices of my heart: In the year I died


We rent a third-floor apartment and drink coffee from mismatched cups. The coffee pot costs  fifteen dollars. It is temporary. We must make do; we are temporary too.


I sleep on a mattress on the floor. I am alone for now. The man I share my bed with is away. He will be back. Someday. We don’t have furniture in the bedroom. We are waiting.


She comes into my room at night after I’ve gotten to sleep and kneels by my bed. Sorrow takes her breath away, leaving her speechless. She tries to form words, but they sound as if they are wrapped in cotton, so none of the sharp edges of the consonants can be heard. All I can hear are vowels stretched out like a dirge.


The sobs begin softly, but soon come louder and quicker. Tears flow down her face and onto my shoulder as I put my arms around her to comfort her.


“I hate … ,” she says.  Him or it, I think she is trying to say. “I hate him,” I hear at last. “He took everything.”


We are stranded in this unfamiliar room, empty of all but us and the bed, a raft carrying us into an unknown future. I rub her back and say, “I know.”


“I hate him,” she says again and again, doubling over and putting her face down on the ground.


I hug her and hold her, but she cannot stop crying. We cry together and I tell her how sorry I am that it happened. If only I could go back and change things for her, but the past is permanent. Only the now is temporary.


I fumble with words hoping to say something of comfort. I pray for her and whisper my love.


“I’ll never be the same.”


I know and yet I cannot tell her what I know. Death changes everything it touches, but not every death is fatal.


I ask her if she would like to lie down and try to sleep. I get pillows from her bed to make her comfortable.


She lies next to me and says, ”After this, I’m not going to have any strength.”


“I will give you strength; God will give you strength; strength will come.” I speak the words aloud and then repeat them to myself, arranging them like furniture in my empty heart.


We are silent, floating, carried out to the sea by grief, hoping to drown ourselves in sleep.

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39 thoughts on “Slices of my heart: In the year I died

  1. Only a small fragment … but in these spare words, you offer more insight into loss and despair than a whole novel might encompass. Two phrases push themselves painfully into my heart …

    ” Death changes everything it touches, but not every death is fatal.”

    ” the past is permanent. Only the now is temporary.”

    And from the last one, I can dredge hope. A beautiful profoundly moving piece.

    Thank you ….

  2. I felt like a privileged fly-on-the-wall. Only the now is temporary…not every death is fatal – Who writes with that kind of spare precision? Oh that’s right. You do. I never cease marveling at the depth of your strength in revealing such an intimate, pivotal (and vulnerable) with so little fanfare. The silence in it was deafening. I only hope to become such a transparent writer. You honor the craft. My quiet thanks to you for ‘showing’ as we all bless your trip already in-progress. Until then, Your friend in Chicago.

  3. I am very moved. You are a beautiful writer. My day won’t be the same after reading this piece. My writing won’t be either. Some things are hard to dig up and expose to the light. Thanks for sharing this post. It’s quite remarkable.

  4. What exquisite writing. I am awed by how succinct and powerful it is. “The past is permanent”–I’m not sure I ever thought of that in such a way that it packed a punch, before.

  5. I haven’t been able to write. I’m sitting in the warm Ontario humidity…Dad’s upstairs apartment…rain falling on the pavement outside…window open only a crack. I miss certain people and the blog for now. Mom passed away the evening of May 31. I got in the car and drove east. I know you understand this feeling.

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