Kathilynn Lehmer is an educator, writer, artist, and poet who has lived on the Coast for over forty years. Her daughter, her family and friends, her sanctuary—the ocean and the redwoods—are her inspiration for her art and writing.
The silent scream appeared the day you told me, but I stilled it to live our moments. It has been with me since, fighting to replace my heart, trapped by my fear that it will become me, growing, darkening, hardening. Its boundaries are the things I can do nothing about. It echoes with horror, despair, rage. I heard it when you cried going into the hospital. when I cleaned you for the first time in the shower, your tears merging with mine and the excrement running down the drain. I heard it when you lay In ICU, burning and shivering, when they told me there were more decisions to be made than ventilator and code blue. I heard it when I moved with you from floor to floor in what became Dante’s Inferno. I heard it as I held your hand not knowing whether to give you strength to live or die. I heard it when you held your head because you couldn’t think. I heard it when you wanted to drive, but couldn’t walk. I heard it when you reached beyond your pain and held me, letting me know you were there, loving me, letting me cry. I heard it as your tears fell all day. I heard it as we journeyed one last time to the garden, to the ocean, to our woods. I heard it as you cried out for me in the darkness. I heard it as your hands turned cold and you took your last breath. I hear it now as the memories of our life flood in. I hear it now as I try to live without you. I hear it As well intended people say “He’s in a better place.” I hear it as well intended people say “Well you survived. You’re looking well You’re doing well.” I am Life goes on without you. I hear it as I look at your pictures and feel a familiar pang of love. I catch my breath and know I will never see your face again. I want to cry out to the gods, to life. I go on. Some days I want to live, to love, to experience life for me, for you. I hear it now inside of me, as I go through the motions of living in this process called Grief that will lead me to acceptance. I hear it. You lost so much. I lost so much. You didn’t want to die. I’m here and you are not. I cry. I saw its form today: A shrouded form reaching out, a black hole where the heart or is it a mouth should be. Perhaps now I can release it.
Copyright © 2020 by Kathilynn Lehmer. Used with permission of the author.