Here is a poem FrancEyE wrote in 2004 after the abrupt death of her 46-year-old daughter, Skye.
When I was 35, my husband said
"Well, Fran, you're half-way there."
What could he have meant? But though
we didn't subscribe to the bible
what he meant was
3 score and 10 are the years we expect.
He lived 6 extra and I've lived 12 so far
so we owe this daughter
dead at 46
(or I owe her
since he can no longer pay)
I owe her 6.
I may die still in debt. She wants me
to go on. I'll try,
but living this way, living with her gone,
is not quite living. I can grieve, though,
for as long as she wants.
Even at noon, so empty and blue
the sky, an ocean of air to walk in, breathe, and rejoice,
at its fringes over the mountains, over the bay,
paled to gray-white.
I'd look away, not wanting to remember
that baby nearly 40 years ago, a beautiful gift from the blue
with the sky in her eyes
looking back at me when other mothers said
they were moving out of L.A.,
moving right away,
because their doctors told them
staying here would shorten
their babies' lives.
I didn't move away.
She did move finally
off to the whole world's breast-cancer capital.
if her life will be shorter?
I think of it though whenever I hear her cough,
and of course as the other mothers
moved their babies away,
the smog moved too;
it didn't leave, it just spread over land and sea
so wherever they are, the air
there now is what it was here, then.
And here I am. I'm glad
I didn't come here to breathe
or to lengthen my children's lives
delightful though those pleasures are;
I came here to use my voice,
to get it all down,
and I'm doing it the best I can
as the sun's going down and that gray-white's turned to brown
and the great cerulean dome has darkened to dinge,
I'm still walking, and I still
Courtesy Marina Bukowski Zavala