Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Singular Experience

There will be no wake
for Jerry Araos,
self-made sculptor
& landscape artist.
Flowers are forbidden
lest his funeral be
mistaken for some artificial
Cremation will be quick,
& ceremony brief.
He will not allow the living
to speechify on his absence.
Such is the solitary warrior
in him
who must have imagined
a long, long time ago
the kind of his passing
revolution was a true word
& betrayal
was never a big deal…

--Edel Garcellano in "The Warrior and Other Poems,"

5. Acceptance
Reaching this stage of mourning is a gift not afforded to everyone. Death may be sudden and unexpected or we may never see beyond our anger or denial. It is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace. This phase is marked by withdrawal and calm. This is not a period of happiness and must be distinguished from depression… The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to us.

Coping with loss is ultimately a deeply personal and singular experience — nobody can help you go through it more easily or understand all the emotions that you’re going through. But others can be there for you and help comfort you through this process. The best thing you can do is to allow yourself to feel the grief as it comes over you. Resisting it only will prolong the natural process of healing. --Julie Axelrod, "The 5 Stages of Loss and Grief",

how would i know, edel,

that the parting

between friends

& kin of spirit

would happen post-breakfast?


he took off for another round

of doctor's consultations

a dialysis session

with his wife following

carrying a full picnic basket

since jerry always wanted

to feed the nursing staff

that took care of him

& to tell them how he loved them


that morning i toddled off, too,

to pick up a new pair

of eyeglasses to see

the world through

proper lenses, the old pair

having caused

a lot of blurred

real images


how was i to know it would

be our last encounter

on that second week

of december

before i tumbled

half-heartedly into

the season's oft-times

mindless celebrating?


i left the books on

legacy writing,

on writing down the bones,

on leaving a trace

by a corner table

in his house

confident we would

resume conversing

after the holidays


yes, edel, he had begun

dictating, at random, 

all the hurts & garbage 

that had weakened 

a strong, generous heart,

hurts left by mortals

unworthy of him


the doctor in the house

said we must continue

these exercises because

they would help him

achieve a catharsis

& perhaps perhaps

complete the healing

as he forgives trespassers

& also forgives himself


he had told his wife & me

his dream the night before,

how rock edralin was

summoning him

to join him,

crying out,

here's a better place!


he looked a bit shaken

before he could sip his first

half cup of coffee that morn


i shushed him,

trying to appear

the expert reader of dreams

who had read & engaged with

jung & freud now & then


jerry, it was not rock herself

who was calling you,

that was an aspect

of you,

rock is you,

the rock in your dream

was a stand-in

so the question is,

what did rock mean to you?

what did

she represent

in this life to you?


he looked away as was his wont

when we were diving into

deeper water,

then  asked

for the platter of fruits 

to be passed


the conversation moved

to another subject

as conversations are wont to do

when one reaches that place,

oh, how he'd hate this pun,

between a rock & a hard place


but i had heard him

speak of rock

in another time

in those long ago years

before cancer feasted on her


he said

if he faced the enemy

in an attack

where his soldiers

were outnumbered,

he would still be

there leading

with his guns blazing


even if his soldiers

had been decimated,

he would keep on firing

at the enemy because

he knew rock

was beside him

standing tall & fierce

blasting away

not flinching at

nor dodging



before long

time quickly ran out

he took his bath

dressed in his branded

shirt & slacks & mocs

& waved me off

with his gruff

"bye babeth!

i love you!'


the conversation

has never really stopped


--Babeth Lolarga

Dec. 30, 2012

6:22 a.m.

Photo of Jerry Araos at Crucible Gallery taken by Babeth in November 2012

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