How do we process loss? This week’s non-fiction piece by Kingston MFA Creative Writing student Mariella Camilleri mixes poetry and prose to explore the feelings that surround the death of a loved one. Snippets of memory, the way present grief mingles with old hurts, and how to make sense of the place someone has occupied in our lives when they are suddenly gone – it’s the most common of human experiences, and Mariella’s piece is a vivid tribute.
It was like a second home. Arms wrapped around us, Maria would proceed to the kitchen to feed us ice creams, biscuits, and other fatty food she stashed in her kitchen.
I don’t remember a time when we didn’t visit. Somehow, her unmarried state made us feel we could drop by invited, lounge in her sugar filled world.
Calm and laid back, she was never perturbed by the noise as we sifted through old clutter; comics, newspapers, old albums and shoes in the top story washroom.
“Look” I’d say parading into the kitchen, on a pair of wee wedges, wondering how Maria’s chubby feet once fit into the shoes. She’d giggle, warn me against breaking a bone.
Most winter days, over a kitchen table covered in newspapers, copybooks, pencil shavings and mugs of tea, she helped us with homework and put her teaching expertise to use. Intrigued by her left handedness, I watched her write letters on coloured flashcards. This image would come to me, when I heard of her death.
I saw her put pen on paper. I heard her vibrant voice. How had we not realised that the end was near? I told myself, that death is nature’s way of making space for another generation. Tears streamed down my face.
She took one last gasp
As a new born took his first,
Unaware of the steps ahead.
A performance without rehearsals;
One chance, one dance.