Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Lost Something In The Hills



“How are you holding up, Ellie?”

“I hardly know.”

“It’s understandable,” her friend said.

“I-I’m so ashamed.”

“Of what, dear?”

“That I feel such anger. That if he were still here, I’d want to hurt him for leaving me. For not asking me if he could die.” She strangled on a laugh. “Pretty messed up, huh?”

“That’s normal, though. Remember the stages of grief—”

“Yeah, I can’t listen to that shit now."

“Sorry.”

“I know, in my head, that it wasn’t anyone's fault. But this pain . . . this pain . . . ”

“It’s possessing you. Filling the hole he left behind.”

“Pretty fucking big hole.”

“Listen to me,” her friend said.

“I’m so tired . . . ”

“I know, but just listen.”

She grew still.

“If you could go back to the beginning, to the concert where you two first met. Would you sit somewhere different today?”

Her hand shook as she brushed the hair from her eyes. “I might.”

Her friend sat back. “Really.”

“You said, “today.” In this moment, I might, yes.”

“And one month from now? One year?”

“Ask me then.”

Her friend squeezed her hand. “I think you’ll answer differently.”

“Okay.”

“And yet . . . ?”

“And yet I’ll mourn that, too. Because if the pain is lessened, then the hole is getting shallower. He’ll have started to slip away from me in a very dear and precious way, in spite of it all.” She paused. “Just like I’ve slipped from him.”

“Maybe that’s a mercy,” her friend said.

She looked out the window, toward the hills.

And squinted against the brutal blue of a sky with no shields.

“Maybe.”


---

My husband, knowing my penchant for
moodier music, turned me onto Sibylle Baier,
a German folk singer whose haunting songs from
the 1970s have only recently been recognized.
Her song, I Lost Something In The Hills,
inspired this piece.


15 comments:

Karen said...

This is sad but real. I think the anger is part of the loss.

Once, a friend who got a divorce told me she would rather he had died; that way, he'd have had no choice but leave her. Another friend, whose husband died, told me she would rather they'd have divorced; at least she'd know he was in the world somewhere. I think the sentiment from the first is skewed. Not having lost to death, she can't know of the anger from abandonment that accompanies death. Either way, there may be no solace but time.

You've made her anger and pain real, Sarah.

CoFfEe AnGeL said...

“Yeah, I can’t listen to that shit now."
Love this statement...among other brilliant ones...

this is such a heartfelt piece...one can feel the pain, the anger...and it must have been hard to write...!

David Cranmer said...

Thanks for turning me onto this great music.

K.Lawson Gilbert said...

Sibylle Baier has a really smooth voice and this song a haunting melody.

Your story is told so poignantly. Isn't it something how we go through so many different emotions when we lose someone - anger, hurt, fear, sadness, disbelief, etc.

You did a superlative job of telling rather than showing here. This is painfully raw at its very sensitive core.

Impressive, as always, my friend!!

Linda S. Socha said...

I hear this Sara and I relate to the loss. More than that I applaud your courage in the telling of this story
Linda

Grayquill said...

Poetry rarely excites me but this stopped me in my tracks.

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Frederick M. Lehman, 1917

Aniquez de los mil luces said...

This is why I love your blog so much.

Only you can portray so much pain and make it such a beautiful piece.

This was so very real.

the walking man said...

The music, if it truly is a penchant of yours Sarah, makes me think you would have loved being a 20 something in the 60's. The granny dresses, round sunglasses and coffee shop music scenes.

I liked this bit of flash and Karen's comment concerning the feelings of loss and regret, once again you plumb the depths with a sparsity of words that thrills and stuns at once.

jason evans said...

“Yeah, I can’t listen to that shit now."My favorite line. It's the chasm between emotion and rationality. Sometimes one has real disdain for the other.

Thanks for introducing us to this artist. I'm looking forward to hearing more.

Aine said...

Excellent piece, Sarah! I am always in awe of people who can capture emotions with words.

I found Karen's comment interesting, because I have a different take on it. My sister lost her 47 year old husband to cancer. And though the pain is terrible and the anger rips one's soul, she'll always have their love to hold on to. She is still loved by him. Betrayal leading to divorce seems like a much greater loss to me. Because one is left with nothing solid to hold on to. All that one once believed to be true is ripped out from existence, there are no longer any truths that can be trusted. There is nothing, no truth, no memory of being loved to hold onto.

Anyway... thanks for inspiring thought and discussion!

Sarah Hina said...

Karen, time is a great healer. I agree. And I agree that the sentiment from the first friend is misplaced. She probably realizes that, too, now.

Thank you for the thoughtful comment, Karen.

Coffee Angel, I have a difficult time writing grittier pieces, so this was a dip into the dark side. ;)

I appreciate your kind words about the writing!

David, my pleasure! She really is a find.

K, dialogue really has become the easiest vessel for me to get things across. The rawness of her emotions made it easier to drive at the truth. It's rare when we have no facades to retreat behind.

Thank you so much for finding something of value here! :)

Linda, I'm glad you could relate to the complex feelings described. I'm not so sure it was courage from my end, though. Just one of those times when we can channel something that's very bleak.

Grayquill, thank you for sharing that poem with me. I'm not a believer, but I still appreciate the sentiment and words.

Aniket, I'm truly glad you found both pain and beauty here. I think that when one is feeling shattered, the pain poisons everything for a time. But I think the friend holds the higher and more enduring truth in this piece.

Walking Man, I like that image! :) Sunglasses in a coffee shop. Yeah, that could have been me, even if part of me winces at the affectation. ;)

Loss and regret are the bottom-feeders of the emotional gamut. There was no pleasure in writing this piece, but I'm glad it seemed to touch a place of authenticity for so many people.

Jason, I wavered about keeping that line in, because it does sound hostile and child-like. But I suppose we all are still hounded by those primitive reactions when pushed.

That chasm can be experienced from both sides. But only from a rare place of extremes. I think that usually, we're all pretty good about finding the middle ground. :)

Aine, I think you're right about that distinction.

I would only say that in this piece, she no longer felt loved by her husband. She felt like she'd flown from him in his death, that there was only blackness and emptiness there. That is the difficulty in not being a believer, I suppose. Not trusting in a next life. When someone is ripped away, having only the past to hang onto is a poor consolation. At first.

Thank you for continuing the discussion! I can tell this piece was good for inciting some deeper consideration. :)

Catvibe said...

Sarah, this was beautifully written. The pain of loss so excellently portrayed. To think the pain of loss is so bad that a person would think that they would rather not have loved...and yet, she will change her mind. I know I would. But the pain...oh.

Sarah Hina said...

Cat, I do think such pain can shroud everything that came before. The first instinct is to want to make it stop. Luckily, we can rise above that desperate insularity and ground it out.

She'll hold onto that vital part of him, and be happy she did so.

Thank you for empathizing with this character so! :)

Vesper said...

As Karen said, anger is a part of loss, but it's not necessarily directed at the one who's lost. Its target could be a higher, abstract entity, like Fate, or God...

This is a great piece, Sarah, despite or, maybe, because of its painful subject.

Sarah Hina said...

Vesper, you're right. That anger can be directed at many targets but will rarely strike anything that provides a soothing or satisfactory answer. Maybe the only mercy is that it's usually short-lived.

Thank you for your insightful comment, my friend. :)