Warmth by Hawra’a Khalfan


a child
associates security with
their mother’s;
voice or heartbeat.
I long
to hear yours.

It’s hard to lose you.
How do you?
‘Get over’ someone
who hasn’t actually
I feel lost
without you.
I feel
floating around waiting to hit land.

I’m married,
You know?
You would’ve loved him
had you met, before.
We want our own little family; I
can’t wait
but at the same time
there is a part of me;
this conflicting side to me;
who doesn’t want children
in this world.
In a world
the only thing they’ll know about you
is that you were sick
and how much that hurt me.

I want them to know
your strength,
your compassion,
your faith,
your trust,
but most of all; your love.
will never
know your love.

That hurts.
It hurts so much-
that if you ever met my children,
the picture
I’d have of you would be in a hospital room
surrounded by
machines continuously relentlessly
beeping; checking for pulse,
tubes inflating your lungs with life.

I want to name my daughter after you,
you know?
You didn’t live
the beautiful life you deserve, and
I guess some part of me
wishes you’d live
through her. I want her
to be as loved as you are.
As strong as you are, 28 years later
still fighting to stay here for your children.
I’ve forgotten so much of you,
Twelve years ago today,
you were standing
wilted spine
gleaming smile
at my high school graduation,
telling me how proud you are. You
always made sure I was happy. You
always made me feel like
my struggles as a woman
were only temporary. I’d give
to go back to the days
I could have a conversation with you. I’d ask
everything I could
and write it all down. I wish
I could relive all those moments with you. I was
tangled up in my own feelings about your malady. I wish
I supported you. I wish
I talked to you more.

Yesterday, I realized
I can’t remember so much about you.
Forgetting was
my coping mechanism; it helped me
take care of you.
I’m so disappointed in myself. I
should have been stronger. I keep
flexing memories
flipping through them
trying to remember something new;
trying to remember something,
I can’t. I am
afraid of days and years getting the best of me. I am
afraid of my memories being haunted
by the ghost of the weak you, the helpless you. I am afraid
of failing to remember
the loving mother
the fearless woman
the devoted wife
I am afraid of forgetting you.
I am afraid your dementia got me, too.
I spent most of my adult life
fearing your death.
Answering every phone call from dad,
with brace to mourn.
Years of tearful pillows later,
I’m still destroyed again and again
with every relapse you go through
again and again. I’d be
left slouching from the weight of a world without you,
needle and thread in hand,
sewing myself back together. I still
search for some of those pieces of me, never having found some.
They’re the root of
the gaping holes within.

I don’t want to live in a world
where you don’t exist,
but if I’m being realistic,
do you even exist now?
Without your memory of even us,
without your
arms, legs,
back, mind. What
are you holding on to? Why
are you even here?
I am so torn
between needing
the warmth of your hugs and kisses,
you to fight for me one last time,
needing you to
including us.
I want your freedom
even though it will be the one
destructive blow,
burning pieces of me
that I will never be able to reassemble.

I’ve lost the warmth of your voice, but I
I will always have your
inked into my skin,
above my own heart.
You will always be my security.

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