calm after the storm

my mother would have been
sixty-six today.
neither she nor my dad
made it to 64,
which is a thing
given that they
married on
John Lennon’s birthday.

as Jews, we are encouraged
not to visit the grave
so often.
the living have their lives
and the dead
ain’t going nowhere.

today would have been
a day to go,
but it has been icy
and I like to run
the eight miles
from my temporary apartment
to their permanent resting spot.
it’s cathartic.
it feels like
an offering of
my sweat and effort,
although I also
leave stones on the grave marker
to symbolize the weight
of my memories.

when I decided not
to take the trek,
I expected to feel guilty.
in life, nothing I ever
did for my mother
was enough,
not even
(or especially not)
if it was what
she asked for.

instead I felt
relief at the choice
to stay close to home.
I haven’t been there
since my father’s funeral
and the dirt over his side
is still fresh,
no grass growth
in these frigid months.

I ran three-point-sixty-six miles,
one for every year
she’s been gone,
and the end for how
old she would have been.
and then my husband
learned that his aunt had passed,
eighty-eight and surrounded by love.
it was good that
I had come home earlier
than expected.
the dead can wait.

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