Paintbrush

Zaur Giyasov on Unsplash.com

FLASH Writing Challenge 100 – Day 6

With the tip of his paintbrush, he soaked up one of my tears.

It had been our yearly tradition, something we did on our anniversary. Every year, for the past eleven years we’ve been married, my husband paints me, naked, in sweet, languid repose, upon our bed.

I felt this year we would likely skip it, after Hilaria’s passing in March. She would have been five in October.

Again, I want to cry, scream, pound the walls. But they are never enough to help pull out the grief that is within me. I feel like it will be there forever. Crying, screaming, any sort of emotional release for the grief over my daughter feels about as effective as bailing water out of a sinking boat with a teaspoon. If anything, I feel worse now than I did in March when the chief of police in our little burb of a town showed up at our door, told me the news, held me as I screamed, and cried until Bill got home.

Nothing bad ever happened in Spartanburg. Nothing bad was ever supposed to happen here. This was exactly why we’d left St. Louis. The crime, the car accidents, the traffic, all of it were supposed to be far less in rural, southern Illinois, especially when compared to cities like St. Louis. It was as if when we left, we remembered to pack and bring everything with us, even our fears.

There is no god. What a joke. How could there be? How could a god, a deity that supposedly loves us so much he sent his only son to die for us and the rest…ugh… It’s just so profoundly exhausting. Wishful thinking. Compensating for our fragile, wispy, vapor-like existence on this planet where no amount of insurance and ‘keeping safe,’ will ultimately make a damn bit of difference. In the end, we are all worm food. We are all vulnerable, alone, finite. We pretend otherwise, but we are all ephemeral. A brief candle.

My friends tell me I will get over her death, that time heals all wounds, and about a million other platitudes that all make me want to scream in their faces. None of them have lost a child. They are good people, and I love them, but they are useless in helping me grieve.

The friends I’ve made in ‘Moving On’ the life after losing a child, grief support group, promise me the grief never goes away. You just learn to make space for it. Like a moody relative or friend that is always depressed. You make space for the friend, for the grief. You don’t demand the grief go away or that the friend just ‘snap out of it.’ You just sit with it, letting it be what it’s going to be. Some days are bad, some days are worse, and some days are okay. Hilaria is gone forever. I will never see my beautiful daughter again. The idea of heaven is nice I suppose, but I don’t buy it. I don’t believe I will reunite with her in some magical place with golden streets, pearly gates, harp music, and perpetual smiles.

Bill arrives home from work early. He walks in sets his suitcase down and hands me the flowers. The roses are already moving from life into death.

He kisses me on my forehead and leaves me in the kitchen where I continue, staring out the window.

I hear him, in our bedroom, opening the closet door, changing out of his work clothes.

Bill has grieved with me. So many of the members at Moving On are single because their partners refused to grieve the loss of their child. In the end, it destroyed their love. I don’t see that happening with Bill. He has been my rock, but he has also grieved. He cried every day for the first three months. He still cries. Openly, unashamed bawling as he looks at the framed, bedside picture of him and Hil at the state fair. A picture I took with my phone. Hilaria is all smiles and angel fine hair. Her smile a dual-edged thing now. Everyone always told us how beautiful she was. Which was true. Her smile never ceased to amaze everyone. Now, when I see her smile, I breakdown. Midge says this will change. Eventually, it will become bittersweet she’s promised me, but that takes time.

A hit and run. The man or woman still out there. Still living with what they’ve done. Unless they were too drunk to remember? I sure hope that isn’t true. Midge says the anger will abate also. We’ll see I guess.

Bill walks back in with his set of paints and brushes wearing his favorite painting shirt.

He can’t be serious. I’m a grieving mother. We’ve been physical since she died, but it’s usually a furtive thing done in the middle of the night, with the lights out, as we ‘accidentally’ find each other in the bed and the old dance finds us. After all, how dare any parent that lost a child engage in something as selfish and as minor as sexual gratification?

“Bill, I thought … “

“I know what you thought. But we can do this. We need to do this. I will never stop mourning the loss of my daughter. Never. But I have a beautiful wife, it is our anniversary, and it has been our tradition, for eleven years, and seeing as how I love my wife deeply, though I’m not sure I’ve said it much these past months. I love you, Margery. With my entire heart, soul, with every fiber of my being.”

What if it had been Bill? On the little asphalt road out front, that day? I shiver. I can’t even consider it.

He takes me by the hand and leads me to the bedroom.

“We can just play with this. For a while. No expectations. We can change the ritual how we want. Okay?”

I just nod as he gently undresses me, lays me back on the bed.

I see the bedside picture. Timed perfectly, the shutter closed and captured Hilaria looking at some ‘fair’ thing. Smiling broadly and perched upon Bill’s shoulders. Bill is smiling at me. A smile that says, ‘I am supremely content, in this moment, I would change nothing.’

The tears come, they always do, but then Bill is there, with his brushes. He lets me cry, as he begins gently wiping away each tear with his brush.

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