October 10, 2012

Ruth Schiffmann

Blink of an Eye

You hear stupid things come out of your mouth. "Has the mail come yet?" or "What should I make for dinner?" And your heart shrinks. What does it matter? Your father is alone at the hospital forgetting your name, your face, your love for him.

The daily routine of living has become unbearable and you fear that one more prick of emotion will kill you. So you start to disconnect things inside yourself to get through another day.

You rip out empathy, heavy and wet like beach sand. You dig handful by handful until your fingers are raw and you are hollow, fragile, ready to fall in on yourself.

You carve out a wedge-shaped corner of your heart like breakfast grapefruit: memories you can't bear to relive. Scraping them out with serrated teeth close to the membrane, you remove the delicate tissue of your life together, placing the soft, fleshy chunks of childhood laughter and adult conversations in a Tupperware container, preserving them for someday when you are stronger.

You grasp for regrets--scattered and buried deep like splinters. If onlys and should haves festering beyond the reach of ill-equipped, blunt-nosed instruments like your own weary fingers.

You tug at cords of harsh words and impatience, but they stretch and give like rubber bands refusing to let you unplug from the source. What you can't undo you cover up with music: your anesthetic. You lean your weight into huge blocks of it to wall up everything tender, raw, needing attention. You push lyrics and melodies against the bulk of a hundred ignored emotions or unchecked thoughts--damming up every crevice that threatens to let in remaining traces of pain.

When you're sure you've done all you can to protect yourself, you travel to the hospital
for a visit. Your father looks at you for an instant, indifferent, before he closes his eyes. Taking deep, silent breaths he sleeps through your time together. Finally, just before you leave, he shifts in the bed and opens his eyes. Registering your face, he smiles and lets his eyes stay with yours until the connection starts to fill the empty places in your heart, aching through every delicate tissue of your being. And you know that the connections you've struggled for so long to undo are the things he struggles most to hold onto. The only things that will get him through another day.

So you start to plug back in again, taking his hand, meeting his gaze, letting yourself continue to love him.


Ruth Schiffmann puts pen to paper always hoping for that magical moment when the words take on a life of their own. Some days the magic happens. On others, she writes in hopeful anticipation. To read more of her work, visit www.RuthSchiffmann.com or follow her blog at http://outonalimbshywritergoessocial.blogspot.com.

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