I never held her hand. I never called the last week of
her life. I meant to make the trip and then postponed
it. I said some words I never can take back.
If only I had known
(Ah, but you didn’t.)
If only I had thought
(But you could not.)
Why didn’t I once tell you?
(But I knew it.)
Why didn’t I invite you?
I hated you for growing weak, for dying.
(I absolve you.)
I lie awake remembering how I failed you.
(How I love you.)
For the rest of my life, I never –
How could I – ?
(Don’t you know you are forgiven?)
If only –
(Would you want your child to live with such
No, I say reluctantly, I would not.
(Then forgive yourself. If only I could ask you,
that is what I’d ask.)
Meditation © 1994 by Nessa Rapoport
From A Woman’s Book of Grieving, Nessa Rapoport, 1994
Nessa Rapoport’s new novel, Evening, was published by Counterpoint Press on September 1, 2020. She is the author of Preparing for Sabbath, a novel; A Woman’s Book of Grieving, prose poems; and House on the River, a memoir; among other works.