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a mother's lessons

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lesson one: everything dies.

it's something the whole world knows,
from the greatest to the littlest,
whether they like it or not.
it's a gift we were given long ago.

every time the fibers in your clothes scratch at your skin,
or tear jerky between your teeth,
or run your hand across the dusty stone of the canyon walls
you're touching the dead.

because it's bigger than you think, death.
animals fall ill, plants wither under the sun, mountains break apart in the rain.
they've all learned something in their time:
that, sometimes, life is not the best way forward.

 

lesson two: death is good.

we can't understand this until we understand dying.
but i promise you,
dying is the ugliest business,
and death is blessed freedom.

because what would it be like, really,
if animals never stopped bleeding after they fell?
if they kept on gurgling and writhing, in unmendable agony?
is that how life should be lived?

remember, we all have the same potential.
we all sicken, and ail, and break.
after so much time, you run out of fates besides that.
be honest, do you want to die forever?

 

lesson three: good does not mean easy.

one day, the dying will be someone you love, and you will say
“this is good, they will not hurt”
but hiding inside your chest is an unending ache that screams
like a thousand roused cicadas in the blazing sun

and that day you'll hold them thinking
“this is right, they won't suffer”
but you'll still gasp like your own lung's been pierced
and dig your nails in as if offering your blood will make it stop

you'll nurse them and tell yourself
“this is how it ought to be”
but that won't stop you from feeling hollow
like a once-full egg whose brittle pieces have been crushed into dust.

death is a blessing for the dying.
until that is us, we carry its weight.