"The white fathers told us, "I think, therefore, I am" and the black mother within each of us – the poet – whispers in our dreams, I feel, therefore I can be free."- Audre Lorde

Saturday, January 18, 2014


I always felt as if I'd intuitively know the moment you would die—
Before the dreaded phonecalls
the formal tellings
the platitudes and condolences.

I'd know the moment you'd leave
because our hearts are so intimately woven together
that mine would feel the tug
of yours coming undone
of yours stretching into a different universe.

I would know your absence by the unravelling of my own heart.
A heart that was made real because of and through yours,
A heart that lived and grew in the warm space beneath yours
A heart that took pieces of you with me
as I left your body as home
to meet you here
in the world both marvellous and horrifying.

You came to me in a dream the other night--
I know this because I woke up sobbing.

In this dream, I sit on the toilette:
it is 5:30 in the morning and I should be sleeping,
but am interrupted by the necessary of the mundane.
And in the midst of the ordinary, the drab, the normal
you meet me
at the door,
tousled hair and pyjamas
you meet me and smile weak
as you draw me in closely for a hug-
tight and buried in your arms, in your chest, I feel reassurance in your heartbeat.

You pull away gently to look into my eyes--
the eyes that you made
the eyes that you taught to see hope in all things,
even in the darkest places,

where vision seems a burden.

You look into my eyes and hold my shoulders,
“Shanny” you speak (you haven’t called me this since I was small).
"It's time” you sigh. And I don't want to hear you, so I shut my eyes.
Because in this sentence there is no hope.
Only darkness.

“When it happened for the first time, the cancer,
I prayed I'd just live to see you through your childhood,
to watch you grow into a young woman. And I did.”

You pause and I hold in breath.

“When it happened again, I prayed desperately to just be able to see you grow into a young adult; to see you happy; go to university, follow your passions. And I did.”

I smile with gratitude, though the tears begin to swell.

“When it happened again, I prayed I'd be able to live to watch you fall in love and get married, so that I'd know there would always be someone here to love you. And I did. God let me see all of these things.”

I feel your hands tighten on my shoulders,

and I dread the moment it loosens.

“Sunshine, you've got him now: to love you and care for you, laugh and cry with you. I've been blessed with a life that has allowed me to watch you grow into the daughter and woman you have become. You don't need me anymore- I can go now. I have gone already”.

And through my cries,
you kiss my head one last time
and begin to sing softly:

"You are my sunshine,

my only sunshine.

You make me happy, when skies are grey,

You'll never know dear, how much I love you,

so please don't take my sunshine away”.

And then you are gone. And I know you have been gone,
for a while now.

The phone rings,
and my Father's broken voice
whispers the words I never want to hear:
“she passed Shan; She's gone”.
But this, I already know
because you told me first.

And that song, our song
the song that makes us mother and daughter
it radiates through the dark space of my empty hallway
where you so recently stood outside my bathroom door.

"You are my sunshine”....

The song you sang to me every night as a baby, then a child.
The song you sang to comfort me,
The song you sang in the car
the afternoon it was struck by a train
the first time you should have been taken from this world,
but weren't.

The other night dear,
while I lay sleeping,
I dreampt I held you in my arms,
when I awoke dear,
I had mistaken,
and I held my head and I cried”.

That's when I woke up,
into seemingly real life
because my wailing cries
startled me
back into a state of awake.

Trapped in the miserable place
between the dream world and reality,
the song, your touch, your goodbye
felt so so real

that i was convinced
as the clock flashed 5:30 am,
that I had lost you,
that any moment the phone would ring
and the voice on the other end would say,
“I'm sorry Shan, she's gone”.

This dream, and the incredibly real feelings that followed
have been haunting my silent spaces
because for the first time in a long time,
I feel a level of fear,
that my heart has never known so intensely.

A fearfulness that penetrates into the peaceful calm of my insides
and renders it fragile
as if this space had been fragile all along.

I find myself actively dreading
the someday phonecall
that will make the universe pause
and crumble,

and I wonder
will I know first?
Will you come to me?
will my heart feel the tug of our hearts

So find myself savouring every “I love you”;
I find myself hoarding and storing memories,
how you say my name,
moments you call me baby-girl,
the way your voice smiles over the phone and I know
I am heard, seen, loved.
I preserve these moments, hold them deep
in a tender guarded space,
and pray with a sense of urgent desperation
that they won't be the last.

Please don't take my sunshine away”.


  1. spooky and sad and beautiful. as always. we'll be praying.
    You do have deep love surrounding you Shannon, she's right.

  2. This is heartbreaking to read, Shannon. It seems so unfair that such a beautiful mother-daughter relationship - something so rare it seems - something so many mothers and daughters long for, but just can't seem to find - has to be marred by so much pain and fear. You will both be in my prayers.


snail coitus makes me smile