The Pause

by krstaten

And now, the exhale. Then quiet: only birdsong and the wind in the leaves.Neil Gaiman

Except today the wind in the leaves sounds
an awful lot like the fluttering of bodies
in and out the door, bringing houseplants,
food, and apologies. Guests simultaneously
loved and unwelcome. The exhale is the rush
of final arrangements, the wind pushing us
forward when all we want is for the world
to stand still and a chair to sink into
while exhaustion and sadness wash over us.

The birdsong sounds like tires on the road
on an unexpected cross-country trip
just to say I love you, I’ve missed you,
I’m sorry, in person. It is this never-ending
series of apologies, this slow packing
of things into boxes, the stream of questions
of how much to hold onto, the sing-song debate
between sense and sentiment. You’re wrong.
The quiet came only in the pause between inhale

and exhale, only in the waiting, the silence
agonizing. The quiet came with the sounds
of moaning, writhing, praying for comfort.
The silence was the thing I begged to end,
until now, until the birdsong, until the wind
in the leaves–now I want night. The moonlight
filtering through trees like stories down
generations. Soft grass. The trickle of rain.
Now the pause between the exhale and new breath.


My father-in-law passed away early yesterday morning. I like to think he heard the hospice nurse say he wouldn’t make it through the weekend and stuck around until a few hours past the weekend just out of stubbornness. That would be just like him.

I’m spending a few days in Ohio with my in-laws. It helps. The pain comes and goes, but this is a reminder that while it hurts, it is not necessarily my pain to feel. I’m learning so much from and about the people I love while they deal with this. I’m glad I can be here.

I’d like to share the GoFundMe link again, to help my in-laws cover final expenses. The link is here.