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morning glories

by erin lawson about a year ago in humanity
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meditation on death and life.

The sun rose inexplicably today. It seems impossible given that I’m not living in the same world I inhabited yesterday. Yet, the laws of physics are the same. The sun has risen and it’s radiating summer heat. It’s not right.

This is the first thing I’m doing now that you’re gone. Writing in this little black notebook. I haven’t cried yet and I’m not sure if I ever will.

I’ve never considered death in this way before. It’s not something that just happens to you and now you know what it is. It has happened to you and you know, but you can’t tell me now. It’s not at all what I thought it would feel like.

Dad is a mess. He cries and cries, while I just sit blankly. I really wish I could feel something. In the tv shows when someone dies, their loved ones cry so loudly and dramatically but I can’t seem to access that reaction. Dad did kind of- except it wasn’t a continuous cry. More like a kid learning to drive: start, stop, go a little ways, then slam on the brakes.

I’m in my room now, alone. I simultaneously feel invincible and like my whole body is a giant Achilles’ heel. I bet he felt like that too. From what I remember, he was the greatest warrior and his arrogance is what ultimately killed him. This space is just so strange. It feels so empty of fear, because the worst thing has happened and it feels like, what else could go wrong? I am in the deepest depths of despair and there’s no further to go. And yet my survival instinct still madly begs for life, like a flower stretched desperately to the sun.


The sun rose again, Mom. I keep waiting for the world to reflect the devastation I feel.

I still haven’t cried. I’m really in my element with all this planning and organizing of things. It’s horrible that I can make light of this. But I guess that’s what people have to do. I’m a psychology student so I know how desperately the brain tries to protect itself. Our brains have a plasticity that allows for constant molding and resiliency. So much so that survivors of childhood trauma very often report dissociation, which is the state of feeling separate from your body. It’s a way for the victim to remodel the reality in order to survive. We are so hardwired to avoid pain that we are always creating new realities.

The world I’m constructing for myself is one that closely mirrors the one before: the people are the same, the dynamics are the same and the damn sun keeps shining. But you’re gone. I can’t reconcile how badly I want to reject this reality with the imperceptible source that keeps everything moving forward. Each step forward into this newness is one step away from you. I want to defy life as science knows it; I want to stagnate and live apart from time. That’s what you’re doing.


Today is Friday. Today is the third one without you. Today we went to the funeral home, and today I saw the most horrible part of death.

Closure has a cost. My family gathered in a cold room decked out with 80s era upholstery, so silent that I heard my heart beat loudly in my ears. The funeral director, every part a businessman, gave us price packages that we pretended to look over before picking the cheapest one. He informed us that your life insurance would cover the funeral, and that the remainder would come to my sister and I.

He guided us into a back room, filled with caskets. We were instructed to pick one. Once again, we pretended to participate in this demented shopping trip before picking the cheapest one. After that, we drove a few miles to a cemetery. A woman with brass blonde hair explained pricing with a slow southern drawl as she showed us potential plots. My dad spoke with false confidence as he frantically moved money he didn’t have from bank account to bank account.I shudder as I write this, Mom. How is it that your death is a business venture?

This aspect of the process brings your death out of the metaphysical and into the insane social norms of this world. It feels disgusting to bring money into this. I feel like I’ve won a contest I never wanted to enter. I’ve been rewarded for your death. I don’t understand it.


It’s been awhile since I’ve written to you. It’s exhausting to pretend everything is normal, but it feels necessary. That means not acknowledging you’re gone. I speak to everyone with the flattest tone I can manage, and lay out the facts calmly and carefully. I’ve even gone back to work, even though the money I’ve inherited is a tempting excuse to take a break.

Today I saw my first sign of you since you went away. The walk from work to home is a long, excruciating one, especially in the summer heat. Sweating, I made my way up the concrete hill, glancing to my left periodically. To the right is the busy 3 lane street, cars whizzing up and down. To the left are neighborhoods. There are walls of greenery, with ivy and kudzu snaking over fences. My face feels warm under the sun. I stop to catch my breath, and observe the plants around me. My eyes catch upon a patch of sunlight, where a lone morning glory seems to reach up to the sky. It is a glowing purple against the green, the sun causing it to practically shimmer. I know it’s you.

The sun rose and you are still beneath it, with me.


About the author

erin lawson

finding my voice.

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