27 [a poem]

When I was little,
I thought about heaven
Grown up, I’d just dwell
On the number 27

My abuser’s birthdate,
Age she became parent
My age when gunshots
Caused deaths most aberrant

The same exact date,
Only three years prior
A girl was strangled,
A murder transpired

Friend of my brother,
She away at college
Thanksgiving evening;
Horror to acknowledge

I didn’t know her.
Then 2017,
Another stranger,
Another graphic scene

November 27th,
My friend had shot his spouse
Spared his dogs and kids;
Did it in their own house

Him suicidal,
His thinking far from clear
Did something evil;
Caused sorrow and tears

He was not evil.
That one action was
Unforgivable? Yes
Know no one who does

Forgive him, that is;
Unless that is defined
With abandonment
Of rage in my mind

For me grief took over,
I couldn’t just resent
Confused, sure. And hurt.
But my anger was spent

He’d feel the outrage,
If it wasn’t his gun
He was human too;
He would have been undone

I knew that man well,
Please don’t say I didn’t
You mean well, but stop.
His true self wasn’t hidden

He was who he was
During hours we shared
I can’t deny years,
Just because you are scared

It’s the scariest thing
We want warning signs.
Some control that would bring

The world isn’t just,
And this traumatized me
This middle-aged man
Changed the way I see

Tainted my whole world,
But it is what it is
Wish I could talk to
Those three daughters of his

Their mom was a soul
I never got to meet
Their dad killed himself,
But other hearts still beat

So it’s one year now.
The anniversary
And oh how I feel
A little world-weary

It’s five years now
Since my uncle also died
Such a gentle man,
Then he chose suicide

I can’t bear to lose others
At their own hands
Or worse, to violence.
I’m sure you understand

My grandmother passed,
This week two years ago
Though it bruised my heart,
Was an easier blow

She had helped raise me,
Which filled my memories
But “quite sad she’s gone”
Nears sufficient summary

My uncle was fun.
Saw him on vacations
Many holidays –
Joyful celebrations

We’d go on group trips,
spanning this large country
My family with his.
Bonding, board games, and glee

And this week I mourn
My two family members
Aware they can’t know
A loved one remembers

My friend shattered me
With how he left this world
Forced to always know
How his fury unfurled

You might not expect
Another thing I learned
Through this experience
I’d found love left me burned

I then realized love,
unconditionally deep
Felt not on purpose,
Had within me just seeped

Barely liked him sometimes,
But I couldn’t stop love
It caught me off guard,
And I tried to think of

How, and why, and when
These strong feelings took root
So little in common.
It did not compute

My doubts toward heaven
Led me onto a path
Where we’d share a cause.
Now’s just the aftermath

It’s hard to feel pride
At what we had created
When just to avoid
Being implicated

Those with the power
Ignored and erased
My work, and me too.
Treated it like a waste

Like those years I spent
Would be better forgot
They didn’t matter.
It was all just too fraught

Wished I was mentioned,
Wished more friends understood
Wish I didn’t feel shame,
Could hold onto the good

It’s so hard to feel
You’d be judged if they knew
That you cared for him
Worse, somehow still do

I witnessed kindness
And his acts of charity
I’m desperate to share
That truth with sincerity

It’s uncomfortable.
Hard to really face
No overt abuse,
This particular case

I am too open,
So I share this all now
Keep all these thoughts in,
I just would not know how

Here’s my survival,
My way making it through
This level of pain,
Expression is what’s due

Turned 27,
Thought it’d be a good year
Then lost two partners
Both of whom I’d held dear

One broke up with me,
Weakening my defenses
Other would commit
The worst of offenses

My eyes well up now
As I scribble these words
But it’s good. I’m okay.
It is nice to be heard.

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