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Feb 2014
I saw her again, there at the hospital
Her hair had begun to silver in early autumn
She was no longer the child
That I had tried to protect, but a grown woman
She was now a matriarch
And she had developed steel in her soul
The years of neglect had been a fire
That forged her an inner strength
Burned the Iron until it became hardened
Even better than it would have been
We talked in the hushed waiting room
All echoes of happiness muffled by the sadness
That clung to the walls like padding
We walked the sterile halls
Scrubbed clean of tears and smiled sad smiles at each other
It was her first death as the matriarch
And she was in charge of this thing, this dying
She was the one who had the strength
To keep everyone else together
Keep them functioning, even if robotic
They did whatever task she gave them
Feeling as if they had accomplished something
And forgetting for a moment
I was proud when I saw her, even through the sadness
Although it was no work of mine
I felt that I had let her down
As I couldn't protect her from the unspeakable things
That visited her daily and worse, nightly
She had been so young and vulnerable, but no more
She was strong and stable,
The rock that the rest of the family could anchor to
As they were buffeted in a hopeless ocean
Yes, she was now the matriarch and she was in charge of this thing,
This dying
To my most beloved niece, the new matriarch.
James Jarrett
Written by
James Jarrett
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