My father passed away two weeks ago. Shock. That's what I felt. I could not wrap my head around death, around the concept of my father not existing anymore. I walked around not knowing what day it was, or where I was supposed to be. Doctor's appointment? Lunch with a friend? Who could remember? Who cared? Everyday events became mundane and meaningless. We had a Jewish funeral for my dad. His body was not embalmed. He was not dressed in a suit, but wrapped in white shrouds. Closed coffin. I shoveled dirt upon his coffin and said good-bye.
He died on a Saturday. I drove from Raleigh, NC to Flemington, NJ on Sunday; we buried him on Monday. I drove back home on Tuesday. I stared at my calendar and realized with surprise that I had a full week of readings and workshops to conduct. Friends told me, "Cancel them." I shook my head. They just didn't get it. These events had been booked months ahead of time and were difficult to arrange. One event, a workshop followed by a reading, had previously been cancelled due to snow. I could not cancel it again. So, I did the readings, taught the workshops. In a way-- it was therapeutic--getting up in front of an audience to express myself through poetry. But it was also exhausting. I hadn't been sleeping well or eating right. I felt lost.
Then I decided I needed to work through my grief, I hadn't really looked it in the eye. I did what writers do--I wrote, and I wrote, and I wrote. In one week I wrote 24 grief poems. My dad and I had a complicated relationship. There was sadness, conflict, and grief that flooded out on the pages. Each day I began to feel a little stronger, better. Healing myself through poetry--that's what I have always done. And each day I was grateful that I am a writer and I have this tool at my disposal to express myself.
I wonder what my 3 brothers are doing to work through this loss. I imagine them at work, either ignoring the grief, or keeping too busy to think about it much. During this time of death and loss--I am glad to be a poet. Glad to have the mighty pen to get me through this time.
At my father's funeral, even though upset, I stood up and recited a poem about the dead. I had no idea I had the strength to do this, but it was all I had to offer. I stood up and read a poem for my dad, my dad who had never heard me read before--he finally got to hear me read. RIP Dad.
Causes Maureen Sherbondy Supports
North Carolina Writers' Network, Temple Beth Or, North Carolina Poetry Society