Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A Time To Let Go

I wrote this as an exercise in an Effective Writing Course at Lockheed shortly after Marilynn died of breast cancer January 18, 1988. The assignment was to write a one-page paper using only one-syllable words, and read it to the class. When I finished reading this, the only dry eyes in the class were mine.


Hon, they say I have to cry for you. At the least, Doc says I have to. And not just for me. For Bruce, Scott, and Jeff too. If I don’t cry for you, it seems none of us will ever be whole. So I have to let go of you, and the way to let go is to cry.

That’s what they say.

Hon, you know it’s hard for me to cry. And I don’t know that I want to let go of you, even if Doc says I have to. That is, I have to if I want to be well.

When I got home that day and saw you on our bed, so still, so cold, I felt lost.

Lost, and sad like a lead weight was on my heart. But you were at last at peace and free of pain, and your smile was sweet, just like it was back in the days when sick cells were a bad dream. When each thought was not in some way tied to fear of where the cells were, and how bad the pain would some day be.

It would have been so easy to pity you, to say life had not been fair to you, that you got a bum deal. But that would have been to not see the fierce pride you had in all that we had done with our lives. The way you would say, “This is our home,” in any place we put our bed. Then pack up and move to some far land, with no gripe or words of fear or loss. “Just make sure they pack our bed,” you would say.

How could I cry while you were in our bed? In the bed we used for over 25 years to make love, to make up, to make plans, and at last to make peace with what we both knew, that you would one day soon die in it. I still hear my words: “What can I do for you, what can I say?”

“Just hold me,” you said.

Then I held you, but I could feel your strength would not last long, and that your iron will would not be enough. Then you just let go. With no last word for me or look, or sigh, or sign.

So I guess I’ll do what Doc says I have to do. I think I’ll have to make a plan. I’ll pick a day, like the last day of next week. I’ll make it my day to cry. To let go. But not now. It’s time to go to bed.



Twenty-five years later, and I still haven’t cried, Doc. Can I ever be well if I don’t?

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