Haiku # 689

The rain is falling…
in silence we sit
listening to the rain

~

كالتائهِ في الليل
بين الكلماتِ أتبع الضو
 الات من بعيد

~

Winter evening –
in my heart the slow burn
old memories…

~

Everyone have left
the road of my life
deepens into the sunset

I lost my sister to cancer on February 03, 2015. This week the doctor told me that my mother’s cancer is terminal, and that her life expectancy is a few months at best.

Haibun # 6 (cancer, again)

February 2015, my sister, at 27, passed away from cancer. December 2019 my mother was diagnosed with cancer. The haiku below is a memory of mine from my first day of school. I remember crying as my mother left me to the care of the teacher, and I remember looking at her through the window while she left me there and wondering why she left me, and where she is going without me. Fitting for this situation. Only now I’m much lonelier than before. Only now it’s darker and colder around me. The warmth and care of the people I loved most is gone. And so I’m left with…

First day of school…
through the window glass
my mother looking at me

Tanka # 154

On her deathbed
telling me of the painting
she dreamed of while she slept,
hoping that one day
she would paint again.

One of the things that hurt me deeply is the memory of my sister a few months before she passed away telling me of her vision of a painting she conceived of in her sleep. She wanted to paint again, and wanted that painting to be her first after she recovered. She never did. Sarah passed away on February 03, 2015. The pain is still as fresh as if it was yesterday.

Wandering Thought # 55

I remember the fear in my sister’s eyes as she laid in her deathbed. I felt so helpless and powerless, and this feeling kills me to this day, cuts into me with a pain I cannot describe. It haunts my dreams at night. I could not ward off death and save the being I love most in the world. They tell me to get over my guilt, that the responsibility was not my own, and though that is true, you cannot not be or feel responsible, and hence powerless. I do not know how to get over this feeling, this incredible pain, but maybe I do not need to…

I also remember the light in her face, a light that became so clear to me towards the end. I don’t exactly know what this light is or why it shun with such clarity, or why her dreams became bathed in white as death approached. Was it her soul, getting ready to leave her body? Was it the beauty of her heart, a beauty that was there her whole life but that became more visible to me as I saw into who she truly was, beyond and inside the flesh and form. I don’t know, but this light! God, this light. As though I was beholding her essence, and it reduced me to tears.

I remember being haunted by this question (and I still am): Will I ever see her again? I will see her again and again as I bring her to life through me in my daily life. I will meet her around the corners of my life, as I live out more and more my own heart, love, and essence, as I become truer to the great love that bound us, that will forever bind us. But the question remains: Will I ever see you again, Sarah? You will come to me in the moments of my life, but at the moment of my death, will you be there with me? Will I feel the press of your hand in mine as you welcome me into the eternity of light of which you are now part.

Cursed be this life! Yet infinitely blessed for having allowed us to share this love even if for such a small period of time.

Obituaries

Obituaries,
instantly present
when a person dies;
yet true obituaries
are written long after
in the hearts and minds
of those whose life
was intimately shared,
and they are not called
obituaries then,
they are known
by a hundred other names,
enumerated
by a hundred other facts,
they are the shared moments
and their intimate depths
growing in the seedbed of life,
they are a hand still moving with ours,
and a heart beating in our own,
loving as we love,
crying as we cry,
they are the imagined togetherness
still breathing in and breathing out
as we carry upon our shoulders
the weight and the promise
and pledge in our daily bread
the laughter and the tears
of all that brought us together
and the death that made us part,
continuing our journey,
witnessing with our eyes and theirs
right into our own demise.

Standing by Your Grave

I wanted to stay by your grave
and watch over you
and guard you
and keep you company
and tell you that
inside in the darkness
you are not alone,
I wanted to stay
and wait for you,
for the day of your return,
of your rolling the stone
and coming back to life,
smiling, laughing
like you always used to,
as if you haven’t left at all,
as if we only separated for a moment
and in that tiny moment
you were just out with your friends,
or working on one of your paintings,
perhaps that one you painted for me
and you never got to finish.

I am staying by your grave,
and though I know in my heart
that you told me not to,
to go on on my way,
and that my waiting is just absurd,
I know, sister, I know, Sarah
and I can almost hear your voice,
but your voice, you see,
the wind has carried,
and the wind has lost it somewhere,
deep in the woods,
or high in the sky.

So I stand by your grave and wait
and sometimes your voice
dews on my face,
and I wake up to myself crying,
and I wake up to myself
telling you that I love you,
that every bone in my body
has missed you
with such an excruciating
and indescribable pain,
I wake up to myself crying
and holding out my heart
like a candle shivering
in the rain and in the dark
and waiting for you to come back,
to lift the darkness
and come back home.

How much can a heart take?

Once, soon after my sister returned from a coma from which no one said she’d survive, we went to watch a play at the theater for a very famous Lebanese artist. She always wanted to watch him. It was so painful and difficult for her to walk down then back up across all the stairs. She had completely lost her muscles from the coma and the chemo and the radiation and the cortisone fallout. Anyhow, she made it. Her will as well as her joy were unbreakable. We watched the play, and I can still remember her face. I sat next to her, all anxious and fidgety about something going wrong, something happening to her. I couldn’t relax. Every now and then she’d turn to me and smile. I can never forget her smile. On our way back we had the windows of the car open and an smell from the street was wafted in. So I noted, ‘what an ugly smell.’ But she, she sat next to me glowing, literally lit, and she told me ‘no, the scent is beautiful.’ The appreciation of someone who truly tasted and to the marrow the fragility of life, and learned the true taste of living. After her coma she thought herself reborn, and believed it was for a purpose. No one hanged on to life more than Sarah; no one with more hope, strength, and joy. And yet the odds were so terribly against her, in spite of how much we loved her. And boy the infinity of the sky knows how much we loved her, how much we love her, and what Sarah means to us. Once, towards the end, she was in such horrible and unending pain that she started screaming her lungs out, asking God Why? Telling him that ‘I’m such a good person, that I never hurt anyone.’ ‘Sarah is such a good and loving person. Sarah never hurt anyone.’ And I and her mom and her husband stood there, helpless, eating our hearts out, massaging her, telling her it will be okay, that she will pull through, and will have the daughter she wanted. Sarah didn’t pull through, though she hanged on to life to a point where the doctors did not know any longer how she was alive. Sarah loved life, and she loved her life. It still feels unreal that she is gone, and it always will. I still feel that at any moment at night she will come and knock on the door and I will open and hug her and cry to infinity. I still feel uneasy and guilty locking the door at night, as if I’m locking her out. But Sarah will not come. Sarah will not come. And so I will go to her, I will join her, one day. How can such a pain exist on the face of the earth? How much can a heart take?

John O’Donohue – When Death Visits

Death is a lonely visitor. After it visits your home, nothing is ever the same again. There is an empty place at the table; there is an absence in the house. Having someone close to you die is an incredibly strange and desolate experience. Something breaks within you then that will never come together again. Gone is the person whom you loved, whose face and hands and body you knew so well. This body, for the first time, is completely empty. This is very frightening and strange. After the death many questions come into your mind concerning where the person has gone, what they see and feel now. The death of a loved one is bitterly lonely. When you really love someone, you would be willing to die in their place. Yet no one can take another’s place when that time comes. Each one of us has to go alone. It is so strange that when someone dies, they literally disappear. Human experience includes all kinds of continuity and discontinuity, closeness and distance. In death, experience reaches the ultimate frontier. The deceased literally falls out of the visible world of form and presence. At birth you appear out of nowhere, at death you disappear to nowhere. . . . The terrible moment of loneliness in grief comes when you realize that you will never see the deceased again. The absence of their life, the absence of their voice, face, and presence become something that, as Sylvia Plath says, begins to grow beside you like a tree.
—  John O’Donohue