Mathilde | By Robin Bissett
After you died, I kept almost everything. Your hairbrush, your favorite blanket, the Get Well Soon cards. The items coalesced, a colorful mass in the corner of our small bedroom. They served as props for Mathilde who loved to play dress up.
She began to carry your old leather purse. In place of your wallet, cell phone, and car keys, she held loose crayons, torn sheets of notebook paper, and her favorite picture book.
She named her stuffed animals for what they were. Doggy, Blue Pillow, Yellow Carebear. She had no name for grief.
One evening after dinner, she told me to close my eyes and keep them closed until she said Open. When the time came, I found her swimming in your long pink dress. The one you had worn the night we attended the symphony.
As strongly as if you were standing in front of me, I remembered the corners of your rosebud lips painted with remnants of red wine and the way you squeezed your eyes tight shut when you laughed, as if watching a movie projected on the back of your eyelids. You bloomed each day, seemingly more than the next, springtime spilling out of you. And you bloomed and you loved and you lived all over me.
When Mathilde murmured, I lost sight of you and only saw our little girl. The soft fabric dragged along the carpet as she waddled towards me where I sat on the floor, limbs liquid against the front of the sofa. She approached cautiously, then wrapped me in her tiny arms. She held me, imitating the low, soothing sounds you used to make when comforting her. She cradled me as I broke apart.
Robin Bissett is a writer and teaching artist from Central Texas. She enjoys sharing stories and strengthening literary communities.
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