The List

(TW: Suicide)

 

From the time she was 8 years old

she kept a list of reasons why

she could not die that day.

When she was young, it often said

“because Mom has already lost two children

and I just can’t hurt her by taking another one.”

She often thought about how it was her fault

her sister was dead. Her fault

that life-saving marrow didn’t do its job

and save her sun, her moon, her stars, her sister.

Years passed

the list kept growing

some items scratched out

revised

reworded.

The theme remained the same, though.

Cannot hurt her mother. Cannot hurt her brother.

And then there were the pets.

Some would say they were “just animals”

but she knew better. It had been drilled into her soul

from a young age that one does not take the responsibility for another life

lightly.

Whether you promise to heal a sibling’s sickness with a part of your own body

or meet the needs of a non-human animal, the promise is the same –

“I will protect you and cherish you. I will never let you down.”

She had already failed at one; she would not leave the others behind.

So she stayed. It was less a desire to live

than a desire to not let down those who depended on her.

Time passed, the pets died of old age,

the girl went away to college.

She began to live, and in living a new life quickened inside her

at the same time the relationship that created that life ended

it created a new responsibility she had to protect.

Her list grew longer, the promises deeper.

She did not take the responsibility for another life lightly.

She whispered to the babe

“I will protect you and cherish you. I will never let you down.”

Shortly after the babe was born, Cancer came and took from her family again

stealing away her mother in the blink of an eye.

The list didn’t get any shorter though

It just had some items scratched out

revised

reworded.

The theme remained the same:

“I failed others but I won’t fail you.

Others failed me, but I won’t fail you.”

So now she protects, cherishes, waits,

she stays.

It is less a desire to live

than a desire to not let down the person who depends solely on her.

Time will pass.

She will keep checking her list.

Until one day,

there will be nothing on it.

 

Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Hacker. This original work is the sole property of the author, and may not be copied or reprinted without express permission of the author. Promotional links to this site are allowed.

 

 

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