My brother died nearly nine years ago and this week would have been his 30th birthday. I love birthdays, love to make a big deal calling it my birthday month when there’s a juicy round number and my birthday week on an average year. I like to think we would have been closer than we were and I would have had some part in welcoming him into his 30’s. But that is only magical thinking as Joan Didion so appropriately coined it. And without the magic I am left with a little hole in my heart, the reality ever-present that he finished his work here many moons ago. As much as I miss him there’s a great comfort knowing I can turn to him whenever I need to. I’d love to party with him, celebrate his continued life, but instead I’m learning to celebrate the life he had and be appreciative for the gift of knowing him, if only briefly. As I was choosing a book to talk about this morning this one called out to me. I opened to the first poem and my choice was made for me. This is from C.K. Williams newest book of poetry, Wait.
I could hear the boy’s mother sobbing inside, then stopping, sobbing
Was the end of her grief already there? Had her someone in her told her
it would end?
Was her someone in her kinder to her, not tearing at her, as mine did,
still does, me,
For guessing grief someday ends? Is that why her sobbing stopped
She didn’t laugh, though, or I never heard her. How do you know when
you can laugh?
Why couldn’t someone have been there in me not just to accuse me, but
The kids were playing again, I was playing, I didn’t hear anything more
The way now sometimes what’s in me is silent, too, and sometimes,
though never really, forgets.