Explaining

'How do I explain death to my child?'
Is the opening line to this story about the Davidson family and the sudden death of their mother.
As Oliver tries to find his mother in his dreams of space and as Jack tries to find out what life is about; we ask the questions that we can never answer.

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1. Jack

How do I explain death to my child? How do I tell the two green eyes that are staring at me, that the same eyes will never look upon his mother again? That he can never know the sight of her walking with the sunlight as a shroud, that he can never see her face, can never savour her breath, can never be held by her or hold her or hide from her or go to her when the world is bleak. How can I explain to him the immeasurable injustice of this, the mindless and directionless way that his mother has been snatched from him and every trace of her removed from the day and the rest of all days? How do I control the rage he will feel? The confusion and the hate he will know when he realises what it is that he has lost, and that nothing has been gained. Should I say that she is sleeping? But that she can never wake. Should I say that heaven needed an angel? Even though she hated harps. How can I convey the grief he will feel, the numbness the loss, the hollow space inside his life that was once so very full? Is there a way? A technique, a clever phrase of words or a calculated lie to try and cover or conceal the boundless anguish that courses through his life, from now and until time can heal it, some way to hinge and bind it. Should I remove all traces of her? Burn her photographs and bury jewellery? Or should I display her throughout our house, like a bleeding weed that chokes the blooming flower? The questions I have no answer to, no explanation, no response to, plague my mind even as sadness blots and ebbs into the corners of my mind, even as despair courses like a cold river into the veins of our family, even after the soil has claimed her body and as time has claimed her memory, will the questions linger? Like cigarettes in stale air.

Will roses still smell so sweet now that she does not smell them? Will music still ring in hearts and minds now that she cannot listen? Will children grow when she is not caring for them? Will I still grow old, now that I will not grow old with her? Will we still have an anniversary? When I cannot look on the woman I married. Will time keep ticking if she is not there to mind it? Will I keep breathing if she is not breathing? Will I still sleep is she is not asleep beside me? Can my heart still break, even though she has it? Will the pain subside and heal, even though I know it never will.

Questions, ever and forever there are questions to be answered. Oliver is staring up at me, begging for explanation, for someone to tell him when his mother would be back, to explain the red rings around his father’s eyes, to stop the tears falling from his brother’s cheeks. I am sorry Oliver and Peter, I am so horribly, so eternally, so uselessly and so pointlessly sorry for what has happened, and how I wish that death was less complete, less final, more debateable and didn’t linger and fester so well.

Death it seems prompts explanation, yet it needs none for there is none. 

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