for Jaime 20.09.87-12.03.09
You were always the quiet one Jaime.
In old photographs and videos of birthdays,
Christmases and other family gatherings
you are the silent observer, musing in the background
as cousins play and argue.
More often, you are seen with the adults,
as a fair skinned toddler, or freckled teen.
Settling on the right words to honour and remember you
is like that childhood game of blowing bubbles in the garden
trying to catch and hold those delicate spheres
reflecting the sunlight, as they drift and multiply.
There’s a photo of you as a baby in your christening gown
that can break a heart. A white woollen gown with blue satin ribbon
your Grandmother made, in which your mother
lovingly dressed and adored you that day.
Another of you in oversized shirt
walking with an older cousin at Mount Remarkable
on your way to the summit, framed by tall gum trees
that have stood watch on that slope for a hundred years.
There are endless photos,
but they cannot hold the young man you were,
or might become.
At birth, you were a healthy weight,
promising a hearty life.
No-one imagined that a few lumps under your skin
could cut life short at 21.
We never knew such helplessness as on that final afternoon
gathered around your hospital bed, to say our goodbyes,
None could protect you or bring you back,
only hold your hand or stroke your arm
and hope you would pass easily
or miraculously turn back
from the coma in which you journeyed with your iPod,
your favourite music carrying you away.
At best, you were not alone and we can only hope
you felt that tender, loving presence
travelling with you.
A bottle of coke – your signature drink
held all your friends’ hopes
signed with names and wishes
more practical and convincing
than a get well card
but now a terrible irony.
You were expected to survive.
It is impossible to believe that you won’t come home
to charm us all with your wit and your music.
Outside the sterile unreality of the I.C.U.
in crowded city streets,
we want to shout at the sky – too bright and too blue
and still the bustling bodies hurrying on to their destinations,
stop the overly noisy, impatient traffic.
It’s not fair.
It is never fair
and we are not alone in our declarations of despair.
You were always the quiet one Jaime
and now the silence is deafening.
© Deb Matthews-Zott
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