My ex-boyfriend died by suicide twenty-five years ago. We were a failed couple, having broken up a year earlier, but we were successful friends. After his death, one way I coped was to write. A poem emerged, a release valve for the moment.
As I re-read the poem recently, I felt a shuffling around the edge of my consciousness. A faded persona stepped forward, carrying a cloak of sadness, anger, guilt, and despair, appropriate ways to respond to a suicide, no matter how long ago.
Here, the persona said, holding the cloak open. Wear this.
I was tempted. The heaviness of the cloak looked comfortable. Familiar. Safe.
Yet, I didn’t want to relive those old emotions. They no longer served me. Donning a cloak of old pain would overshadow the present. Do nothing to change the past.
I looked at the poem. Felt the appeal of its’ emotions.
I looked outside. Felt grateful for how the poem had once served me. Breathed in the warmth and beauty of the sun and flowers, thankful for how they served me now.
At the edge of my consciousness, the persona retreated, the cloak abandoned on the ground.
I did a previous version of this post titled Saying No to Re-living Old Pain on 4/26/19. That version feels clearer in meaning but less poetic. This rewrite has been a struggle. Feel free to share thoughts on either one.