On Your Own
Fear chases sleep
It hangs vacancy in your eyes
Hollows out your heart
In which to lie
Fear and the phantom now call you home
So when they ask
How do you explain
That your body
Are the cause of your pain
Battling- your own brain
The moment she was born, she made her presence known with wails and squeals, gurgles and hiccups. Even in sleep, she murmured and sighed. There was never any danger of losing her or forgetting her. I always knew what she was doing and where she was. She wasn’t an unhappy or disruptive child, just always making some kind of noise. She wasn’t even all that loud, just constant. She existed in the world and she made sure the world knew it.
The noise of Jemmie quickly became the soundtrack to my life. Part of my attention was always fixed on her, tuned to her frequency. It got so that, when we were apart, I would find myself straining to catch a hint of her voice amongst the background noise of wherever I was. The unconscious effort would release with a physical sense of relief as soon as I returned to her orbit and could hear her once more.
That’s the worst thing. That straining is now constant, and it will never be relieved again.
The first time I came back to the empty house, the silence was oppressive. It pushed down on me like a smothering blanket I couldn’t fight my way out from under. I wanted to shatter that silence, to scream and cry, to rage against it and exert some control. Anything not to be left alone in those still, quiet rooms. But I could not produce a sound. I opened my mouth to pour forth my emotions, but they wouldn’t come out. The silence stuffed itself down my throat and trapped all my sounds within me.
Jemmie would never laugh or speak again, so neither would I. The house would stand as a monument, forever in silence because it would no longer echo with her noise. And I would stay in it, frozen in time and space. I have made my choice to remain silent in the face of the void of my existence, which no longer has Jemmie in it. I am wrapped in my failure to promote and protect her precious voice, and so I have sacrificed my own.
Silence is my penance, my only companion now that Jemmie is gone.