Grief: My Journey Without You by Devonne

Updated: Oct 5, 2018

When you love someone you do your best to honor them. When they hurt you, you either tell them or spare them. This piece is dedicated to a person whom I love dearly, but to whom I never got the opportunity to express the pain she caused me.

This is my journey without You.

14: I saw you the night before you left. You weren’t quite as I remembered you. You were never healthy, but you had decomposed; this was decay. I thought it strange to have seen you in one afternoon more dressed in a wooden encase bed than you were in the days spent in that mechanical one.

Clad only in that cheap linen robe. Half-closed. Linen with thread count lower than quality, a body count too high a quantity. That linen robe held you longer in your last days than I did and I’m sorry.

I’m sorry.

15: Without you I made it questionably through the year—without your help. I made friends and roamed halls under a pseudonym: “the bubbly girl”.

I wondered why they didn’t question my forced smile or my pretentious laughter This before I knew the extent of my talent as an actor.

Even when I wanted them to, they couldn’t hear the “help me!” They couldn’t tell I was suffering.

I did that. I’d made it. I’d only have to keep up for another 180 days. One school year and I’d graduate. Do you care?

16: I’ve defended you to the world. I portrayed you as honorable. Every since you I’ve made the honor roll. I stayed on track even when your departure derailed us. When life fought us:

2 Girls 1 Elder relinquished as if we were duties you could just quit.

2 Girls 1 Elder abdicated as if our attachment to your throne wasn’t void without you on it.

How could you? Wouldn’t you miss us? Did we break you? Push you past your limits?

I’ve never had the balls to do this but it’s time for your interrogation.

What made you think it was okay to miss your daughter’s graduation?

I had to face the endless repetition of teachers questions: “Is your mother coming?” friends’ questions: “Is your mom coming?”

Black shaming for my under-appreciation of a paternal figure, since most of theirs had been marked absent during their school careers, but honey you don’t know the half.

Where were you?

I waited like that naive child. I stalled my strut across stage hoping it’d be like that time in eighth grade when you told me in tears “you couldn’t make it” to my talent show by the end of the first verse I looked out and you were there.

But this wasn’t like then. I wouldn’t run off stage to have my face in your hands, feel pride through your grin while you’d cry “congratulations”.

You missed our graduations.

Where was your participation?

I don’t know how your first is doing Mama, but your youngest ain’t holding up against the heat. You’ve orphaned me before I could find sweetness in sixteen.

“In memory of”, “in honor of”, “she wouldn’t want us fighting” only drove the wedge between us deeper.

You know you must’ve been something, when you have been nothing yet your absence emphasizes the presence of the emptiness and non-existence of our present.

We float in limbo. Fragmented memories of our past and assumed futures.

You were my best friend.

And at 17 you showed me your true colors. Somehow it was okay that I didn’t need my mother but you needed yours? So here we stood. Knelt.

Motherless not once, but twice. It felt as if you laughed at the idea of emotional liberation

Was it funny, my desperate grasp for bonds with other people’s moms?

Did you find amusement in my attempts to fill the gaping hole you left?

Downright comical. Your motherless child seducing protection from her friends’ parents. An emotional harlot in search of a mother-like pimp.

No one else holds my heart like you did.

2 Girls No Elder,

Failing relationships, you missed my first kiss, my first trip into womanhood. I imagine we’d have laughed about it over wine?...

You leaving took my spine but grandmother’s death wiped stability from my knees and injected sorrow in my bloodstream. It has become me.

Everything has been unbearable.  Do you know how hard it is to breathe when oxygen feels like chemical castration and the continuance of my own heart beating only fuels frustration?

Everyone has their opinions on my grief

“Just give it time” / “you’ll have to move on”

Opinions on my grief

“Honor her memory” / “Dedicate your success to her memory”

Memory fails me. I don’t remember your voice. I can’t recreate it.


I have to scavenge for photos to rediscover your face. It’s faded.

Remember me

You are a phantom. You are my grief. You put half-truth behind the phrase “dead-beat” mom.

You were the most involved parent, you invented the PTA meets and could handcraft soccer cleats

You weren’t a “dead-beat”.

I’m not angry.

I just hate you for loving me so much, then expecting me to carry a pulse without the help of your touch.

I just miss you like hell. You weren’t a dead-beat.

Your death just beat the hell out of me.

Written by Devonne

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