the dying of the light

This post mentions my rainbow baby. If you are feeling sensitive about living children, you might want to skip this post.

My father’s voice quoting Dylan Thomas.

Do not go gentle into that good night. 

Only once he begins, my father can’t stop. This is his compulsion, brought perhaps by his own sense of mortality. He must recite the whole stanza, then the next, and the next, until he has given voice to the whole poem.  He sways forward and back, weight shifting from foot to foot; he makes eye contact; his voice a low half-whisper:

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

In the evenings I am sad.

I am all clichéd metaphors. I am the setting sun. The dusk, the twilight, the gloaming. The dark night of the soul. I am the dying of the light.

I rock M. to sleep, her weight solid in my arms. I slide her gently into the crib and tiptoe out. I drag my weary bones around the house, washing dishes, making my lunch for the next day, straightening up. I fall next to A. on the sofa and we watch t.v. because we are too tired, too spent, to manage anything else.

But under every step, every motion, every sigh, is Joseph. His name, Joseph, Joseph, the rocking current below the surface. A quiet pulse that I hear but I pretend I don’t. I wash M.'s bottles, measure ounces of milk for daycare. Joseph, Joseph. I match earrings to my outfit for tomorrow, finger the necklace with his name and pick out another to wear. Joseph, Joseph. I lie in bed, my brain a jumble of images and worries from the day melded in dream-like surrealism with the fictional tv characters. Joseph, Joseph.

A poem I thought I had memorized, but I can’t remember what comes next.

So I ignore. I put off. I want to write about him. I want to write about the stale shape of this grief. I want to write about the weight of Joseph’s absence. I want to write about M., about mothering this solid, living, amazing baby girl. I want to write about mortality—my own, Joseph’s, M.'s.

But time is not on my side and each day ends too swiftly. I drift off to sleep with words in my mouth unspoken, feelings unexpressed.

Resentment builds. Caring for the younger sibling steals time from the older, and Joseph is not here to demand my attention.

I rage. Who are you, anyway, Joseph? What kind of attention do you even need? How can I mother you, twenty months gone?

I rage. I rage against my selfishness, for all the things I choose every day over Joseph.

I do not know what words follow. I cannot recite the next stanza, or the next, because I no longer recognize this whole poem of grief.

Evening comes, the dying light of day. I have given voice to nothing. A heavy sleep sweeps me away. 


Is there a time of day you think more often of your baby(ies)? Is there a time of day you associate with grief?