Let me soothe you. Let me tell you sweet nothings, meagre words that do little but remind you that I’m here. Sitting beside. Listening. Quiet. Sharing the burden. Sharing in the pain. Regretfully aware that this is your cross, and I’m only here to lift it onto your shoulders.
We all know pain. The first one we meet when we arrive, bruised and sore from the journey to existence. We see the world — no, we feel the world — cold, new, scary; and we scream. We scream for help in a language we don’t even understand, a tongue acquired in the silence of the womb. Help me. Help me. (E dey carry me where I no know).
Or so goes our first lesson. And each time we’re back in that place, each time we don’t recognise the world, each time we’re dragged head-first into a painful reality not of our choosing, we remember our first language.
What happens when they die?
Silence. They return whence they came. We continue as we were. Row your boat, life is but a dream. When it ends, the tiny atoms that came together to create this brief fiction simply bid themselves goodbye.
But how do I tell you that?
Why should I tell you that? I don’t know for sure myself — mine is nothing but a cushy explanation to keep my curious mind at bay.
So I listen to you. What you believe. And I believe it too, temporarily. The joy they’re experiencing, the singing and dancing, the freedom from pain, some of which you now carry. Some of which I’m here to feel.
And when this pain is done coursing through your body, what comes next — what it continues to — is grief, the lasting memory of a world that used to be and the loss of the person who dreamed it.
I sit here thinking these thoughts but not saying much. You know these things. I know that you know. I’m simply here to remind you that’s all. That it’s okay. It’s okay to hurt. It’s okay to let the pain tear through your body. It’s okay to remember. It’s okay to continue.
I wish I could share your grief, but I can’t.
I wish I could take some for myself — and I try — but we both know it doesn’t work that way. Pain is a clingy lover.
All I can do is sit here with you, feeling these feelings, and thinking to myself “when will it be my turn?”