I am not resigned

Tomorrow is May 31st. It will mark a year since my father died.

A year ago...can it really have been a year? Has it been more than a year since I heard his voice? Since I saw him smile? Since I held his hand while he drew his last breaths? Wiped his face as his skin cooled, watched as the nurse listened for a heartbeat that no longer echoed?

Does grief ever ease? The loss is greater now that I've had time to measure it, to consider it. To feel it. For most of my life, I believed the world would end when he died. He was the foundation of my life. He was the tree whose roots encircled the whole world. He was the shelter I sought when the storms were too frightening to bear.

Every moment without him in the world seems pointless. Tragedies are deeper. Loneliness more bitter. Sorrow more profound. How can anything happen without him? How can the sun rise? How can it set? How can the rain fall? How can I breathe?

But the sun does rise, and it sets. The clouds gather. Rain falls. And I go on. And on. And on. Tears. Pain. Sorrow. Grey ashes where my heart used to be. Grief is endless. It is merciless. Ruthless. It is cold, bitter earth sown with salt where nothing can ever grow or live again.

How dare the days pass - how dare I laugh - how dare I love? How can I get up in the morning, work, talk, eat, or sleep? How? He is gone. Everything must stop. The world ended a year ago, and I am just waiting for it to wind down.

Of course - none of this is true. Life goes on. The world keeps turning; it doesn't end just because he ended. I go on. I laugh. I love. I work, play, pray, and sleep. I remember.

I remember yesterday -
when I would sing and he would play 
his guitar -
with fingers that were stiff and sore 
he'd find the chords -
and we'd cross the Brazos at Waco, riding hard to make it by dawn - 
Or find Amarillo by Morning...

I wrote that poem twenty-three years ago. This first stanza is all I remember. The rest of it is lost somewhere in time. I think I suffered his death on and off all my life - I lived in dread of it from the age of eight years old. I couldn't imagine life without him in it.

Grief doesn't cease. Acceptance comes, but that doesn't change the loss. He is gone. I believe that we will be reunited one day. God promised a homecoming, and I am thankful. But I am not resigned.

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.
Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.
A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,
A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the
They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled
Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know. But I do not
More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave
Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;
Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.
I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned. 

(Dirge Without Music; Edna St Vincent Millay)


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