Emily Rae Robles

the paradoxymoron


Do you remember the day you were born? The day your soul came crying for air into this suffocating world?  Do you remember the way my hands trembled as the midwife handed you to me for the first time?  The way my eyes flitted over your wrinkled purple face and counted your ten perfect fingers and ten perfect toes?  Do you remember the beginning of your life as well as I remember its end?

I don’t remember your smile; only that it made me happier than anything else on this earth.  I don’t remember the sparkle in your eyes as you gestured wildly about your newest favorite movie.  I don’t even remember the way your hair smelled when I would kiss the top of your head.  Death has taken all those memories away from me.  Has it left them with you instead?

I like to think that you are unburdened with memories of your life on earth, that the instances of love overwhelm your recollections of your life gone past.  I like to think that you remember me but are not distracted by the imperfections of my life as it happens.  I like to think that you are wiser than I, that you have gained a perspective from eternity that belies your lack of human years.  Do you weep at my ignorance as I weep at your wisdom?

I have relived that day countless times in my mind, but the image that sticks with me the most is the moment after they carried away your body.  I sat and watched as countless pigeons flew down and crowded around your vomit, pecking at it until that last bit of you was gone.  I cannot escape those pigeons.  They peck away at my dreams the same way they eliminated all that was left of you.  I sat and watched them until all trace of you was cleaned from the ground.

I blame myself.  Of course I blame myself.  I would blame myself regardless of what happened.  But then again, how could I have known your heart was so weak?  How could I have known that your body would so easily shut down?  But hindsight cannot bring you back.  I have only the future in front of me, and you will play only an absentee role.

I worry about your sister.  The two of you were so close, watching the stars through the window of the room you shared for so few years, arms around each other.  She wakes up sometimes in the night, crying for you to protect her from the uncertainties of darkness, but her room is as empty as my life.  It saddens me to know that she will grow up without an older brother, but it saddens me more to know that she will soon forget you, leaving only be an aching hole in the corner of her heart to remind her that she once experienced loss.

I can no longer listen to Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Chopin, Tchaikovksy—the sheer pain that lies in their beautiful music shreds what is left of my heart.  How can there be so much pain in beauty?  Is there beauty in pain?  I went to an art museum yesterday and sat in a corner for several hours until it closed, memorizing every detail of the vase in front of me so I wouldn’t have to admire it as a whole.  It looked like a teardrop, but I made sure I only saw the imperfections on its surface.

Your father tries to comfort me, but we both know it is only an attempt to comfort himself.  There will be no comfort for either of us.  You are like the amputated limb that the patient feels for years even when nothing is there.  How can the leg be massaged when there is no leg?  How can the pain go away when the source is long gone?

I took a walk today, barefoot in the crisp snow.  I lay down and felt the numbness throb through my veins until I was able to cry.  Your father carried me back into the warmth of our house that is no longer a home and cried with me until we ran out of tears.  It was then that we decided to send your sister to your grandmother’s house.  She will heal faster in a healthy environment.  We, with more years tied to our backs, must pretend for the rest of our lives.

I am trying to write, but the words are breaking open my pen and leaking into my soul.  They are poisonous, these words, because they cannot communicate my reality.  My reality is no longer real; it only exists in a mind from another life.  I am trying to hurt myself as much as possible, so I put on Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and play the second movement over and over until it has torn open the shell of my essence and thrown my soul to the wind.  Each line tears at me until I can feeling nothing but agony.  Will this help?  Will anything help?  Will anything help?

I lie on my bed and gaze into the corner undecorated by your finger paintings and school projects.  I try to clean my mind of your presence, but the music brings me back every time I fool myself into forgetting. Anger arises at my humanity, my inability to erase, my lack of desire to erase.  You are indelible, like the scribbles you left on the living room wall a few years ago.  You are indelible, like the scar on your arm from when you tripped into the fireplace as a toddler, the first moment of my life that I truly knew fear.  You are indelible, like the ashes of the World Trade Centers on our country’s history.  No, these things are not indelible.  They will dissolve and rot along with this house, along with your body, along with history.  I think of how my grief will soon be forgotten, absorbed into the collective agony of a people trapped by impending death, and I am almost angry enough to want to live.  I open the door and scream, finally scream, finally and helplessly scream.

Do you remember the day you were born?  The day your soul came crying for air into this suffocating world?  Did you know that you would only be here for five short years?  Did you know that your life would enter ours, wrap itself inextricably around us, and then vanish as suddenly as it arrived?  Do you remember the beginning of your life as well as I remember its end?


March 6, 2011 - Posted by | stories, writings


  1. Powerful imagery and emotion. I experienced the narrator’s pain.

    Comment by cindy | March 6, 2011 | Reply

  2. I love it so much! I am looking forward to more of your writing, you’ve got me hooked.

    ~Tayrenae, your new writing buddy (:

    Comment by Tay | March 6, 2011 | Reply

    • awww thank you! It means a lot that I’m capturing people’s attention.

      Comment by emilyrae | March 7, 2011 | Reply

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