On one of the poetry forums I frequent, it seems like everyone is writing of death and it's eating me alive.
There is one about the funeral of the writer's mother - and the little details that were so overpoweringly important at the time. It mentions, in a way that lends it great impact, that the funeral director told her not to bring shoes. That one line was a like a sledgehammer between the eyes. When I buried Alexis, they told me not to bring a diaper, she wouldn't need one. What mother lays her child down with no diaper on?
I took one anyway, and the funeral director seemed to know that it was important to me, because the day of the viewing, she had it on.
But her shoes... little patent-leather Mary Janes, she was so swollen that they wouldn't fit her feet. She was 12 days old, wearing make-up. She had the most beautiful head of down-soft black hair. In the hospital I'd sit and just run my fingers through her hair and talk to her - in the casket, it was stiff-sticky with hairspray. And I kept thinking, she's 12 days old, why the hell would they put hairspray in her hair!?
The poem mentions how she placed a Rosary in her mothers hands, and I shivered at the memory of putting a gold bracelet on Alexis' wrist at the viewing, how cold and stiff and unbending her little arm was. How horrified I was to feel my child that way, and how important it was that she have this bracelet on. It was engraved with her name, like writing your child's name on the inside of her coat, in case she ever got lost someone would at least know her name. Alexis had her name on her wrist, engraved in gold because the tag of her pink frilly dress would eventually rot away. I had lost her, and wanted someone to know her name if they ever found her.
It has to be done - but why - If someone finds her, will they bring her back to me?
And nearly four years later, I sit here crying still, remembering how insane that thought process sounded even in my own head, even then, and not caring because it was so damned important.
That poem was the best thing I've read in a long time, because I felt it, but the worst thing I've read too, for the same reason.