84–This heartbreaking unknowability.
All the answers to all the questions I’d never thought to ask.
We are, all of us, ultimately uknowable to each other. Perhaps this makes the larceny of death an even crueler theft – especially with those we spend our lives trying to understand. Lovers. Close friends. Parents.
In their passing, we not only lose their corporeal presence – the calming heft of their physical form, the sturdy reality of their soft skin and hard bones – but we lose access to their voice, their memories, their stories.
Soon after my father got sick, I started recording things. Conversations we had. Memories he’d tell me. Videos of us sitting around.
I pulled out my phone and hit record in the car. I hit record at the dinner table. I hit record nearly anytime we spoke.
I knew it was futile: I wanted to hold on to everything – every sound, every inflection, every breath and burp and pause. But I also knew I could not defy death, and I could not hold on to that which was inside him that he’d never shared: all the answers to all the questions I’d never gotten to ask. Or never thought to ask. Or never could have asked. Decades of dreams, and doubts, and discarded deliberations.
This poem, written sometime after he’d lost access to language, rests uncomfortably in this disorienting realization. The angry heartbreak of it. Which itself seems a precursor to loss.
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