Monday 1 March 2010

Forget Me Not.

He should be eighteen
But will remain forever nine
The little boy with the laughing eyes
And the mop of curly untameable hair
Caught forever in endless days of childhood

A chance word
A song on the radio
It catches me unaware
Reopening a wound that has never fully healed
My heart screams in pain
And I am hurled once more upon the jagged rocks of memory.

A phonecall in the night
My sister's tears
Her mumbled words
Her grief rends the world
I hold her tight
Yet cannot touch her
Tethered together in a feeble attempt to save her
To save myself
Relentless storm clouds beat down
We are all swallowed whole

Casseroles, bread, an ocean of milk
Why do they think food will salve us?
But they must do something to save themselves
Empty thanks yous
Awkward words
Awkward silence
Faces come and go
They are all strangers
In a strange land
The world is lost
There is nolonger meaning

His tiny body laid out before us
Witness to that which should never be
I should never have looked
That should not be my last memory
I tear at the visions in my mind
Trying to erase the moment
It cannot be undone

Emotions burning me to the core
A thousands suns to sear me soul
I can stand no more
My mind rebels
And I am numb

I am no longer really here
Faceless mannequins sit before me
They fill every corner of the church
And spill out onto the road way
Silent sentinels to my grief
The world is muffled and grey

I can barely feel the wood of the pulpit beneath my hands
Witness to a million words of love and grief
Aged flaking lacquer slices my fingertips
And I feel nothing
I am a voyer
Disembodied and disconnected
The woman standing before me is a stranger
Her ashen and tear stained face belong to another.

Words on paper in my own handwriting
Seem the work of a stranger.
Images flicker in my mind
My sister and I sitting alone
In the lounge room
The door barred to keep the world outside.
Paper and pen cannot hope to capture
What is lost.

Do the words matter?
Or is it the act of writing?
The memories
Laughing, crying, screaming
We hold each other without touching
Each knowing that a single touch to comfort will break the spell.
And we will drown once more
We must hold this moment of sanctuary
Or we will never survive the reality
Beyond the door

My mouth moves
I speak the words
But they have no meaning.
Remember the joy
Remember the love
Hollow, meaningless, lies
I lie to myself, I lie to everyone
Who am I trying to convince?
A piece of me is missing
I fear I will never find it

I swallow my grief
I cannot show it
False strength
A thin veneer to cover the maelstrom that consumes my soul
My skin is sensitised
Each touch meant to comfort
Becomes a thousand razor blades
Slicing my flesh to shreds

Time heals all wounds
Except this one
The fragile scar continually breaks down
A chance word
A song on the radio
And I am transported to that day once more

I cannot breathe
Tears run unchecked
A tide to swallow the world
The waves close over my head
The darkness blankets me
Peace is forever denied

I must swallow myself
Or be lost forever
I take the pain and put it in a box
It struggles to escape
And I tie it tight
Life goes on because it must
But the light of day is forever dulled

If the only way to be rid of the pain is to forget
I choose always to remember 
If you cannot feel love without pain
Then the pain will be borne
And he will be forever loved


(This is in memory of my beautiful nephew Jack who was taken to soon.  Nine years is as yesterday)


  1. Helene Bartlett1 March 2010 at 14:05

    Michelle, this is such a beautiful yet heart-wrenching tribute to your sister's little boy. Prayers, Helene

  2. Wow, Michelle, that was beautiful, sad but beautiful. I'm so sorry for your loss. There are no words to say to make this any easier, no matter how many years have passed.

  3. Thanks guys. It was a horrible time. Last week was the anniversary of his death so I've been thinking about him a lot. Still makes me cry. Even writing this made me cry. I didn't know whether to post it or not as it was so personal.

  4. Beautifully written Michelle... I have a nephew the same age and could not imagine not having him. So sorry for your grief that continues... like you said, they say time heals all wounds, but we've all lost enough to know that isn't true. Praying for you for comfort in this time... ((Hugs)) Miranda

  5. I agree. This was beautiful, heartbreaking, and true.

  6. Oh man. That is very very sucky indeed. But a beautiful poem and an even more beautiful tribute. I hope you and especially your sister, managed to find happiness again, even if it's a different sort of happiness.

  7. sorry michelle, such beautiful words. xxx

  8. Miranda - Thanks. It's always hard this time of year. Having kids of my own I can't imagine how my sister bears it every year.

  9. OWO - Thanks. I was surprised that writing it brought up so much emotion for me.

    VA - It's okay most of the time. It's just this time of year and his birthday that are really hard. Though his birthday has a different feel and we see it as a time to celebrate him.

  10. I think everyone has posted all that I would have said but better. I am so sorry.

  11. Beautiful words. Such a lovely and honest tribute to your nephew. I'm so sorry for your sweet and very loved loss.

  12. Lucy - Thanks. It's always hard this time of year and again in Nov around his birthday. I don't think I'll ever forget how that time felt.

  13. Beautifully written. I'm sorry for the loss in the family. I believe he is never far away but will always be fondly remembered and close to the hearts of the family.

  14. This is a beautiful memoir for your nephew. You're a fine writer and you did the best tribute I've known. Lovely poem! Prayers for the little angel in his death anniversary.

  15. BK - welcome and thanks for your kind words. He is always in our hearts.

  16. Lita - welcome. Thanks, it's hard some days but he brought us such joy in his nine years, most of the time that's what I remember.

  17. This is a very beautiful tribute. It was also brave and honest to post.

    Also I want to thank you for your very, very sweet words on my blog as well.

    Very best to you!


  18. Marymac - thanks for your kind words. I think I'm glad I posted it now. And no need for thanks. I love your blog, it always makes me smile, or snort, or belly laugh or frequently nearly pee my pants.

  19. Oh what beautiful words. Is it rude of me to ask what happened to your nephew?
    Wish I could do something to take your pain away and I hope your sister now has other children to ease the pain a little. (HUGS)

  20. Anonymous - my nephew was hit crossing the road. Whoa still takes my breath away writing that. No one was at fault it was just an accident. I wonder sometimes if it would be easier if we had someone to blame but life isn't like that and the reality is it will always be painful. My sister has 3 beautiful little children now who know all about their big brother.


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