courage in grief

I called you brave

you laughed and said bravery has nothing to do with it

you were right right to speak it out loud



I called you brave out of awe of something I spotted in you that I fail to see in myself

Maybe it is less bravery than the ability to put on a brave face

Your character, always with joke ready to lighten the room

your eyes, always bright and bold, flashing with wit, never cloudy

It is a trait within a family that I never quite had

I remember feeling less than brave

I was simply afraid



Did I greet you at the receiving line with a smile?

I barely remember a receiving line, but if there was one,

I was only there with tear stained cheeks and eyes down



I called you honorable , ‘the honorable daughter’

you laughed and said you had no choice

you were right,

you said so because we were close enough to be bold



I called you honorable watching you attend to her so affectionately

even in those final sacred moments when death is in the room

maybe it was less honorable than honoring

maybe it was just out of a deep deep love

but you made her death humane, even beautiful



I remember feeling so afraid

afraid of the hospital room, the noises, but mostly afraid of her being sick

I remember everything I did not do, the times I was not there to attend to her

I wish I could have been more like you

more free with my affection, even when deeply afraid

I know I was there for her in many ways but the moments I was not

play over and over



Courageous, honorable, strong, and brave

all words I never felt I was

not in the middle of the night, tears, salted, mixing into warm bath water

countless nights spent with grief seeping out in those baths

my guess is you feel less than those things now

my guess is those words are not what you see inside

when you muster up the strength to even start to look

but, oh still, I see courage in your grief!