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Saying goodbye to Angeline

Posted by someone on December 13, 2002 at 19:23:49

My wife's cousin died two days ago and it's hearbreaking for her family because she was only 16 years old. Among the things that arrived in my e-mail was this poem tho there was no name of who wrote it. It reminded me so much of the recent teen suicide that I decided to post it on this board.

It was not meant to end this way, Angeline,
With shovelfuls of cold dirt falling
In sickening rhythm on the pine box
That holds your body—
With the leaden sky scowling low overhead
And rain drenching the numb crowd
Gathered silently in black.
Like the others, I came to pay my respects.
I stand here, my hand muddy from the dark earth
That I dropped on your coffin.
But there is no sense of closure,
No sense of farewell.
Rain slides in a stream off the black brim
Of a young woman’s hat.
She is beautiful but her thoughts are terrible
As she stands and watches.
She is soaked but she does not move.
I cannot tell if she is crying,
The rain is so heavy.
She steps forward to drop a handful of dirt,
She kneels, and in the end
Someone has to help her back to her feet.
God! I know the pain she feels! I am past grief,
I feel only a numbed disbelief
And a silent rage I am afraid to own.
Angeline, you, so full of life
Were hurt so deeply
That your butterfly wings could no longer open
To fly into the sunlight.
You were crushed.
When you could find no answers
And even the questions had been asked so often
They had become leaden and empty,
You took your life.
As we file away from your grave
I swear that those who hurt you will pay,
But it is not in my power to do that.
My swearing will not make it happen,
Nor even make the rain stop.
And then some primal cry
Rises animal-like from within my atheist soul,
“Why, God? Why?”
As I head to the car, my synapses screaming.
I am not ready to shake the minister’s hand
Or receive scripture for comfort.
But I cannot say Angeline has ceased to exist,
That her life had no meaning
Or that her death makes no sense.
I wash my hands in a ditch before taking out my keys.
The beautiful woman in black goes past.
As I rise she looks into my eyes.
There is no need to say a word, and we do not.
I slip the key into the lock on the car door
And as I do I realize one thing—
If there is a God
He cannot be the narrow deity of my childhood.
And Angeline is with him now.
I try to reject the thought
As a throwback to religious weakness
But it rises to overwhelm me with an intensity
That is both terrifying and exquisite.
Angeline is with him now
And those who hurt her will face justice.