In Lieu of Flowers, Please Send an Explanation


When the hot water hits the millimeter of raw flesh next to my thumb it feels like electricity.
I wince.
I curse.

I try to imagine her putting it (whatever it was) around her neck.
No note.
No words of anger or solace.
No answers.

Her parent rushing in, two sides of the brain desperately trying to communicate with one another. To make sense.

That little spot of cuticle, picked raw, burns as I wash dishes. There is a pair of rubber gloves sitting right there on the edge of the kitchen sink, but it seems like it would be an inordinate amount of effort right now to dry my hands, put them on, turn back to my chore.

I’m exhausted.
I’ve been freezing all day. I cried off all my makeup before I even got to my first client. But I’m home. I’m safe. My family is safe, and I am washing dishes.

She’s gone. But not. There are machines to turn off, and they can’t do it. Not yet. They promise to be better people, better parents, if the doctor can just bring. her. back.

They can’t.

No one can. Did she know this, I wonder? I doubt it. At her age, the pain of life can be so blinding, disorienting, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
To know that things can change.

I remember the coyote that wandered into our yard that morning. We gasped with wonder and awe at the wild creature, a creature we had never before seen in real life. Of what is she the harbinger? I wondered casually, sipping my coffee.

Coyote is a trickster.
So, this must be a trick.

Questions bubble up. What if I had done this or that or the other.
There are walls up all over my brain, like a maze.
I can’t find any answers.
All my what if’s pile up like marbles at the end of a track, rolling around on one another. It is sloppy and confusing and asymmetric and I don’t know what to make of it.

But I do know this:

When I sit with a child who is suicidal, I look them in the eye, and I tell them that if anything happened to them my life would never be the same. I may have only met them once or twice, so imagine what it would be like for the people who really know and love them most.

I say that and I mean it.

I meant it.

10 responses »

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