May 15, 2013

Mother's Promise

"I’m scared, Mommy"

Sterile lights
Discerning white glare
Upon the wintergreen tiles
Of the hospital floor
The unfairness of life
Had blown into her atmosphere
Like the catastrophic breath
Of a roaring tornado
Leaving only jagged ruins
In its wake

"I don’t want to die"

Every word was a cleaver
Slashing away another chunk
Of her shattered heart
Her child was barely five years old
Disintegrating before her eyes
Ravaged by disease
Failing by the day
She had done her best
To create a safe world for him
Of freshly-mown grass
Sprinkled ice cream
A vanilla-scented jamboree
For him to grow in
But he would soon be leaving
Taken from her too early
Thrown into a mysterious realm
Of uncertainty
She was helpless
Unable to intervene
He did not fully comprehend
The concept of death
His tender mind
Was not ready

"I’ll miss you too much"

She searched for the words
That would offer succor
Any sentence
That could pacify
His needless suffering

"Mommy will be there, honey"

A vibration of hope
Tingled in her chest
As the phrase departed her lips
She elaborated:

"Yes baby
Time has no meaning in heaven
Someday Mommy will pass away
And when I do
I’ll just come right back here
To meet you"

"You will?
You promise?"
He sniffled
A deluge, frantic tears
Pooling copiously
Beneath swollen eyes

"I promise, my love
Mommy will never let you down"
She affirmed

"Cross your heart"
He demanded

"I cross my heart and hope to..."

She turned away
Not allowing the word
To escape her mouth
Confirming the inevitable
The unthinkable
She said a silent prayer
Raising her inner voice
Up to God
Asking for her child
To be spared
For the evil that consumed his body
To be erased
She prayed
For a miracle

But a miracle
Was not to be

Tiny coffin
The deep drumming
Of hallowed soil
Dropping into a new grave
The intrepid aroma of tiger-lilies
A hurricane brewed
Within her scattered thoughts
Trust became a question mark
In parentheses
The church was a vaudeville act
God, a mad jester
She would never again
Pray to an aloof deity
Residing in an unproven afterlife
Why should an innocent die?
And why does God not listen?
Heaven, the eternal reward
Offered like an invisible box of rain
To the stringent soul
Impervious to corruption
Baked in a kiln
Glazed and hardened
Faith was only a luxury
That took its tax
In time

I’ll just come right back here
To meet you

The promise plagued her
A blistered rash
On the soft flesh of her spirit
A hasty pact
Made in a desperate moment
To shear the cloying twines
Of lineal existence
Doff the threads of chronology
And meet her baby in the hereafter
At his point of crossing over
It was a vow that she knew
Could not be delivered
Her last words to her shrinking child
Were a lie
She felt disgusted
Frightened and perplexed
She could not bear the thought-–
Her little boy
Sleeping in the cemetery
His soul gone
His vitality
Lost forever
Never to be touched again
Hanging on the thinnest shreds
Of her beliefs
She hoped idly

* * *

Years crawled by...

She grew old
Cancer had infested her body
Stealing her esophagus
With its decaying fingers
Jaundice had dyed her skin
The color of ancient papyrus
Scribbled with the cobalt veins
Of forgotten language
Fading away
She lay motionless in bed
Chasing specters
Across the shadowed ceiling
With her eyes
Resentment had evacuated her mind
She had no anger left
No energy
Her sole thought
Was of the child she had lost
So long ago
And the empty vow
That he had carried
To his premature grave

Mommy will never let you down

So here
In the final stanza
Of her shrouded life
She submitted her soul
Before God
Allowing herself
To be sated with love
Unquestioned fealty
Pure devotion
She could feel the trappings
Of her mortal body
Peeling away
The shadows were closing in
With her dying breath
She offered up the remnants
Of her trust
That was all she had left
To give
In this world

"Please forgive me"

As the first rays
Of the new morning
Began to filter
Through the drawn blinds
She closed her eyes
For the last time

And kept her promise