A Poem for Hannah

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A Poem for HannahMy husband’s sister Hannah passed away in March from the terrible disease of drug addiction. She was a beautiful, smart, caring young woman; she was also a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and she struggled to cope with that trauma and the subsequent anxiety it caused her. These words are for her.

The way I see it
I have three choices.

I can avoid playgrounds forever,
because you loved swings so
the sight of them stings the
back of my eyes with an unexpected
mix of anger and longing.

Or I can pretend you didn’t
love them,
that they didn’t signify
your innocence—swiped from your life
as casually as a candy bar
from a convenience store—
until the association fades.

Because I just did my makeup so I don’t
want to cry,
or because it’s a sunny day and I don’t
feel like feeling sad—
avoiding the tears and keeping my eyes dry,
at the risk of banishing the
beautiful memories.

Or I can choose Door Number Three,
behind which I don’t change the
station when your song comes on,
or switch the subject
the moment the tears well up.

I can see those playground swings
and let the rush of joy and pain—that
two-edged sword of remembering—
crash over me, overwhelm me,
choking me with the reminder
that you really are gone,
that you really did die
before you even reached twenty.

I can look the teacher in the eye
when she asks how many aunts
my son has and say
“three”—boldly, without waver or
hesitation.

I can see those playground swings
and not run away,
standing there with the image of
you—
light and flying, free—
surrounding my soul,
making me lighter too.

If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with the devastating effects of sexual abuse, two good places to start seeking help are RAINN and Darkness to Light

Do you ever write poetry?