She was always a ghost

I never knew her to be young

Alabaster skin

Hair a drift of snow

Tall with small bony hands

A round childish nose

And horned-rimmed glasses

She drunk hot tea

From tireless mugs

Nibbled demurely

Throughout the day

Seasoned everything

With salt exclusively


She had violent mood swings

Smiles dimmed by tears consumed in flames

She felt every word spoken

Strait to the marrow

Deeply sensitive

But sometimes terrifyingly cold

I have seen her cruelty

Heard of it in the reflections of her past

Through my mother

Never one to let go of a grudge

Impossibly stubborn



As a kid we’d go to the grocery store

Everyday walking a couple of miles

To the mall to browse for hours

At home we played dominos and cards

She raised me mostly

In that way

I have thought of her as a mother too


For the bad there was also plenty of good

She would listen to me talk for hours

To recordings of my terrible singing

Read my inappropriate adolescent stories

Always full of lavish compliments

For those she loved

They were adored through every vice

Exalted even in crime

Always she loved my crushes and closest friends

Unconditionally even after things had soured

I think she understood

That I have never

Stopped loving anyone


She was Irish Catholic

Sent all of her children to Catholic school

When I became Buddhist

She never challenged my decision

Only listened to my philosophies

I do not know if she accepted it

But I never felt rejected or condemned


My grandmother was inappropriate

Especially when she got older

She’d ask questions

Of strangers that you don’t even ask of friends

My husband frequently became her dead son

She saw demons, heard voices in her bedroom

(Then again so did I)

She kept ghosts in the top of her closest

An old box filled with black and white photos

And letters from her sons and her brother

In times of war

She kept their uniforms and their metals


In the end it was hard to see her


Left her locked inside of memories

Glimpses of a past so dark

Nothing could ever penetrate

The medicine tamed her

Made her innocuously sweet

Still she could not hear

My closest confidant

Locked away in places

I could not possibly reach

I missed her even while I held her


She saw me

Graduate high school


She was there when I got married.

When I got pregnant

I couldn’t wait for her to meet my daughter

She died two days before

I couldn’t travel the 5 hours to the funeral

Already being a week overdue

I never got to say goodbye

Then again how could I?

I would not know the words

That could unbind me

I will never know how to let go

No matter the lifetimes

That stretch between


(This is a picture of my grandmother much younger than I knew her. She had my mom in her 40s so. I found this extremely hard to write, I cried through most of it so I am not sure how well its been written or if it makes sense. I have tried for 3 years since she died to express the pain.)


6 thoughts on “Mollie

  1. Lovely photo and very loving poem. I also had two very close relatives die at the time of my children’s births, an aunt and grandmother, one the same morning and the other the day or so after. It was very strange not being able to participate in rituals around a close death, and especially having this new life of the child, very disorienting to be so happy and sad at once and hard to take in the loss.

    1. I found it very hard to grieve also. There’s a swarm of emotions not to mention with a new baby you are busy every second so don’t you have the time to process. I ended up hospitalized with exhaustion they thought it was transverse myelitis because I lost the use of my legs and had signs of nerve damage. It was a very difficult period. My legs are fine now though so it wasn’t that. Losing two people dear to you at once I think I would’ve went to mental institution after the hospital. I am so sorry for your losses. Thank you so much for your sweet comments.

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