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An echo rings in me, talking to my sister.

She is gone, a wife now. I am still in our parents’ home, without her. I feel hollowness – fakeness – talking to her, and I hate it. I do not know how to be real with her now. I do not know how to be, with her. I’m not ok. She is blissful, playful, happy. She has a place, a home, a husband. She welcomes me into her home and I come, hesitant. She is effortless, relaxed, I am not. I don’t know how to be!  Something hurts. Deep. I smile and admire, listen and laugh… I hope she doesn’t know it’s hollow. It’s not her fault. It just is this way. I look at her tummy and wonder how soon a baby will be inside. And something else hurts, deep. I turn away. I will not think about that. I will just love her. Only… it isn’t working.

Deep in me hope struggles, like a tiny flower on the forest floor, to reach for light in the hushed gloom.

Today, standing warm in the sunlight, filled with the simple joy of hanging towels to dance in the wind, billowing their clean wet fragrance, a breath of hope was stirred.  A wisp of something  wordless stole soft and tender over me.

“Hope is sweet,” I whispered to the white washcloth I was hanging. And it is, when I am alone. But what happens when I am with other people?  I am tender, bruised somehow. Unable to meet their eyes and their well meaning questions and their empty words about what I am doing. Why does it matter what my body is doing (my hands and my feet and my eyes and my brain)? What perfunctory tasks I am performing, when my heart is broken inside me??? I am grieving. I am bleeding. I am crushed! And I cannot talk to you about what necessary work still happens, what my days look like. I do not KNOW what my days or weeks or months look like. They blur.

I am far away from the noise of the outside. I hear it, a distant tumult. Laughter and harsh words rising out of the monotonous clamour of voices, indistinguishable. I do not hear what they say. Sometimes they speak to me. They have to speak twice before I can tell it’s me they spoke to, or what they said. My eyes widen, anxious that my brain please work, just this little bit. Please make words that go with their words. Sometimes I almost cry, just trying to speak coherently about things I do not care about. Things I cannot see or feel in this place.

I am forgetting the words for those things, but learning a new language; heart words. Real words. I haven’t tried speaking those to them. I do not know if they will laugh at them.  So I remain silent,  seeming confused and… like a foreigner, not knowing the language of that world.