I didn’t realize that the last box would be the heaviest,
not until I stumbled with it down what is now your drive.
Tears flowing unchecked were blocking my common sense.
Crying, remembering when our desire was alive.
Shoved the box in the van, slammed my door closed.
Then I checked the garage for things forgotten.
Taped to your toolbox, I saw your favorite picture of me
the one you promoted from your wallet
to the dashboard of your race car, a Vega, 1973.
My image inspired you as you raced
or so you used to say.
I guess the week you yanked me from the car
Was the week you did so well, driving your Vega to first place.
The house looks deserted, the grounds are unkempt and unloved.
Summer heat has burned the lilac bush I finally grew and turned my roses brown.
Flowers struggle among the weeds and most of them have died, died to set me free.
The angel trumpets and morning glories alone proclaim
that once I touched the earth around your home with love.
I bend over to rescue the flowers setting dead in plastic pots,
and then I set them back down.
I can’t save what’s been killed with neglect, I know. I know. I’ve tried.
I knew what would happen when I stopped the watering that kept them alive.
I carried out the last box tonight as the sun was going down
It was so much heavier than the first,
the weight really caught me by surprise.
I patted the morning glories goodbye, watered them with tears.
I climbed up into my van, remembering your words the day you bought it.
As you handed me the keys, you softly said,
“There, now you can take all your stuff the next time that you decide to leave.”
I shifted into reverse, held down the brake as I laid my head on the steering wheel to cry.
Crying because; still, I love you, crying for all that we lost.
The last box was the heaviest, so much heavier than the first
How could I have known that a box of fancy glasses
Would weigh me down the worst?
Saw her heartache coming, visible
from two thousand miles away.
So when she called me this morning
wondering about him and that girl
I didn’t know what to say.
I’d seen the warning signs
but kept it to myself
cause, I’m a great one to talk.
When my world was blown to pieces
I didn’t run, I didn’t even walk.
So when she askes me twice,
“Mama, what do you think, what do you think
about him and that girl?”
I don’t say what I feel,
“There goes your world, my daughter,
that’s what I think about him and that girl.”
Saw her heartache coming and I
knew she was caught in my shoes.
How sad. I wish I’d flung them in the trash
outgrown them or at least given them away,
before her feet were formed and
now here she is, a beautiful woman
stumbling through love in her mama’s shoes.
Fifty years ago my older brother, Billy, came home and found me drunk out of my mind.
Billy, you made me walk the neighborhood, on a snowy night, kicking me in the butt every time I stopped.
You said you were gonna walk me sober. It would be another ten years before I stayed sober, but you gave it a damn, good try.
I remember crying and crying and as I sobered up, asking you, “Where do we go from here, where do we go from here?”
Big brother, you were my first hero.
Mom wrote in my baby book that when I was a year old, I followed you everywhere, pulling your hair and teasing you, wanting you to play with me. And you told her that it was okay.
“She thinks I’m her toy,” you told her.
You taught me to ride a bike when I was six, and you set me free at the top of the hill that I felt was a mountain, on Pratt Street, because you knew I was ready before I did.
You taught me to ice skate on the Shawsheen River, in spite of my fear, because I always knew I was safe with you. You would catch me before I hit the ground.
I was afraid of everything back then, but you always took my hand and shared your courage.
I don’t know why you were so brave and strong, living with a father who tried to crush you, but thank God he didn’t succeed, and you were my hero.
Me and Cherie and Suzanne will never forget the year you saved Christmas from Dad’s rage. You came and you even packed up our Christmas Tree and drove us all to your house.
You threatened my first love’s physical existence when he left bruises on my arms. He laughed about it afterwards, but he stopped grabbing and shoving me, at least until I married him. That one’s on me.
You saved my daughter and my grandsons on a really bad night, when you could have walked away.
You and I stayed close for so many years, and it was only in the last few years that we lost touch. I had a meltdown and I shut out most of the world and if you were a casualty of my depression, I’m sorry.
We just stopped calling each other.
Maybe we got lazy, maybe we just took each other for granted, maybe we just got old.
Maybe I thought you would always be there when I needed you.
Now, you are so sick that you can’t even hold your head up for more than a minute.
The doctor said two weeks to two months.
We faced-timed today and I watched your courage once more, as you struggled to talk, to think, to connect.
We reminisced about our trip around the old neighborhood on that snowy night so long ago.
“Where do we go from here? You kept asking me that,” you said.
“Well, I guess we’re there now,” I said.
Once more, your courage shines through as you prepare to leave this world behind.
I told you I’m putting you in God’s hands and you could like it or lump it.
“Go for it, ” you said. A few weeks ago, you would have given a different answer.
I will play with you in Heaven, dear brother. Save me a place in the family mansion.
You taught me so many things, but this…this is the hardest lesson of all.