The Lasts

It’s February again, the month of lasts. Last time I saw Philip, last time I spoke to him, hugged him, texted him, left him a voicemail. Last time I told him I loved him and listened as he said it back. The deeper I move into February, the more I withdraw. I am alone in ways that only death can teach. There is something about life and death that no one can give to me. It can only be realized because it was always there. Thing is, I can’t reach it. I can’t define it. I hurt terribly about it because something is missing. Something more than just Philip. The hole he left only grows larger because that is where life is. And like it or not, I am being sucked swirling down into that deep. There is no way to resist. Except to keep my eyes closed and refuse what he wants me to see.

February. It’s different, as everything is always different. I know, every day I know, it’s February. I am walking apart, taking one careful step after another. I can’t see where I’m going, I only know I walk with death. This is not a bad thing; it’s not a good thing. It’s just what’s so and I would like to get to know death. It is, after all, my constant companion. I want to keep it close. Anything that has to do with Philip I want to keep close. I need solitude. Natalie’s moved back – she is all the company I need right now because I love her so. I keep to myself much as I can, spend whole weekends in my apartment. I consider it a victory If I park my car on Friday and don’t move it until Monday.

And why, I wonder, is that so hard to understand? This is my life and I’ve lived it enough to know what I need. I created Philip’s birth and now I’ll create the way to live in his death. Three years is nothing. It’s as though he just died, yet it’s like I’ve not seen him in forever. What is time? It’s perception, is all. My 24 hours are not the same as yours. I’m not talking about clock time. I’m talking about psychological time – past, present, future. All that’s real about time is that it’s always now. So can I, for now, live with Philip’s death? Yes. I can and I do. I show up for work, I show up for my daughter. And in my alone time I write, I knit, I sew. Creativity is a call to life. I am not sitting and crying, I’m sitting and knitting. If I did sit and cry, then that would be what I needed to do. I bristle when I’m told I shouldn’t be alone. And I think anyone who tells me I should be doing anything other than what I am is afraid of getting burned by the fire of this mad grief. Because death is exactly what we try to avoid every day, and who wants to see it in the eyes of a mourning mother.

When Philip and Natalie were little, I’d bought a book on numerology. I’ve always been fascinated by the unseen, by wanting to commune with something I knew was there but couldn’t quite grasp. So I read maybe half – because really, there wasn’t a book that could give me what I was looking for – and put it down after I went through the exercises that would tell me what my own personal number was. The result was that 2 was going to be an important number for me. 2? What’s with 2? Give me complicated 3 or sexy 9, but 2? 2 had no personality, meant nothing to me. Besides, it was an even number. How much more boring can you get?

Philip was found lying on the floor of his room on 2/23, which is the official day of his death. But we know that he really died on 2/22. I’d say 2 got real important. It took his death to connect me to the unseen. His death is both a blessing and a curse. I am closer to Philip now than I ever was. It is not his body I need, much as it’s what I want. Why do we cling so hard to these bodies that are only temporary? I wonder that I don’t let myself be more comforted by Philip’s presence, by the way he nudges me, helps me, all the time. It’s merely his body that’s gone, and if it wasn’t, I wouldn’t know the things I now do. I live on two planes. The one where my bare feet feel the cold floor, where I pick up dog shit, shop for distraction, spend too much time fretting over what to wear. Then there’s the plane where I feel loved and tended to, where I know what matters, where I see how fleeting this all is and that’s okay because it’s what is so and to argue about it is pointless. To be in touch with what’s beyond what I can see is to be graced.

February. I don’t want it to end. I know it’s a construct, but I feel safe here. I feel close to my son because this is the month he  died and so offered me an opening to the Divine. This is the month I excuse myself from obligations I don’t much tend to anyway. It’s not that I don’t care, it’s that I haven’t the energy. Going to work is about all the going-out, all the interruption from my real work, that I can take. I need the calm and quiet of my home. This must be what seedlings go through before they sprout. They live in the deep dark until the day they poke their tiny heads out – then they are fragile things, growing roots underneath as they reach for the sun. Some of them make it, some of them don’t. Me? Resist though I do, I know something that is difficult to say. I think I’m going to make it – and Philip wouldn’t have it any other way.

© 2015 Denise Smyth


13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Maria Danielle Casinelli
    Feb 15, 2015 @ 22:59:26

    “To be a warrior a man has to be, first of all, and rightfully so, keenly aware of his own death. But to be concerned with death would force any one of us to focus on the self and that would be debilitating. So the next thing one needs to be a warrior is detachment. The idea of imminent death, instead of becoming an obsession, becomes an indifference. Now you must detach yourself; detach yourself from everything. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he is incapable of abandoning himself to anything. Only the idea of death makes a man sufficiently detached so he can’t deny himself anything. A man of that sort, however, does not crave, for he has acquired a silent lust for life and for all things of life. He knows his death is stalking him and won’t give him time to cling to anything, so he tries, without craving, all of everything.” ― Carlos Castaneda, A Separate Reality

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Denise
      Feb 16, 2015 @ 12:35:38

      Thank you for that – death as indifference not because one doesn’t care, but because one has thought about it and put it in its proper place. The work of being human, for sure.


  2. jmgoyder
    Feb 16, 2015 @ 02:35:27

    I think this is the most beautiful post and so wise. You absolutely amaze me!


  3. Aimee
    Feb 16, 2015 @ 07:42:53

    (((Big enough hugs to get you through to March))) ❤


  4. Denise
    Feb 16, 2015 @ 12:37:34

    Thank you Aimee – I’ll take all the hugs I can get ;o)


  5. Lucia Maya
    Feb 16, 2015 @ 14:27:31

    Dear Denise, as always, you say it so well, so much of my own experience is found in your words.

    I was just last night telling a friend that I can see (though not yet feel) some tiny seeds beginning to come alive under the rich earth – parts of myself that have been dormant for these past two and a half years since Elizabeth’s death. I look forward to seeing what may come through each of us on this path…

    I am with you this month in spirit. Glad you are doing exactly what you want.
    Sending much love, Lucia


    • Denise
      Feb 20, 2015 @ 12:54:06

      It means much when you say you experience what I do – it makes me think I’m getting it right. It’s so hard to write lately…everything is a cycle, yes? May this one end soon. So much love to you, Lucia.


  6. grahamforeverinmyheart
    Feb 17, 2015 @ 10:31:33

    I am thinking of you and Philip (2/22/22 was my father’s birthday…I was 22 when he died suddenly) and Graham also died on the 22nd (of May). I’ll light a candle for Philip.


    • Denise
      Feb 20, 2015 @ 12:55:40

      You, too, with the 2s. Since we’re here and need to see, touch and hear, numbers are one way the dead communicate with us. No coincidences, for sure.

      Thank you ahead of time for the candle – Philip and Graham will always be our lights.


  7. Rose
    Feb 20, 2015 @ 12:48:47

    Thinking of you these past days a lot Denise….wondering how you are and how much I would love to be sitting quietly next to you kneeting, watching TV or not, or just been there. I want you to know that my heart is with you and Phillip and that on the 22nd I will also light up a candle for him.




    • Denise
      Feb 20, 2015 @ 13:19:01

      How lovely that would be, Rose. I’ll tell you – I’ve gone a bit numb or something. An absence of feeling. Sometimes I think we can only take so much at a time. I’m tired, but I’m okay.


  8. Rose
    Feb 23, 2015 @ 07:44:47

    Thinking of you ….


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