|Susan and Stephen - October 12 1986|
When I sent poet Susan Musgrave my blog on poetry, Poetic Justice , she and I discussed the grief of a loss. In her case it was about the recent death, September 14 2021, of her 32 year-old daughter Sophie, and, in mine the loss of my Rosemary on December 9 2020.
While I am not a poet I find a measure of relief in writing about grief and in reading poetry. That she sent me the recent poem she wrote of Sophie, I consider not only an honor but it also does provide me with a measure of escape from my own loss by sharing someone else's.
And she sent me a poet's advice: Oh, I am so sorry to hear of Rosemary's death, Alex. 52 years. Joan
Didion's books — her husband's death and her daughter's — are bibles of
grief. Julian Barnes has some beautiful books about his wife's death — Levels of Life (the third section) and of course C.S. Lewis. A Grief Observed.
Of her daughter she wrote:
My daughter, Sophie (Stephen's daughter) died of a Fentynal and Benzos overdose on September 8, 2021, in Vernon. She went off her Suboxone, cold turkey, in late August and then started using Fentanyl to stop from getting sick.
She was found on the 4th without a pulse or heartbeat. They revived her using CPR for an hour, but there was too much damage to her brain and kidneys. I brought her ashes home to be with Stephen's. Sophie was 32.
I never knew such pain existed. There hasn't been a day since then that I haven't wept. Sometimes for hours at a time. I wrote this for her on the plane flying home.
September 14, 2021
For Sophie Alexandra Musgrave Reid (January 4, 1989-September 8, 2021)
“The reckless seek death the way the poets seek rhyme, the patient
a cure, the prisoner freedom.”
— Rumi, The Fire of Love
The day you are cremated a girl modeling
a black hoodie,
like the one I’ve chosen for you to wear, lights
up my Facebook page:
I survived because the fire inside me burned
brighter than the fire
I hear you laugh at the irony as
they fire up the retort,
a laugh dragged through the ashes of a
thousand cigarettes, tokes
of crack, my sweet dangerous reckless
girl, what could I do
but weep, the way I did when you were four,
a Popeye candy cigarette you scored from the
boy next door
for showing him your vagina through the split
I told you, next time, baby, hold out for a
whole pack, trying
to be brave, the way only a mother could. Now
I carry you home
in a plain cedar urn, the remains of all you
once were reduced
to this smaller, portable size. Not even you
the fire this time, your light in ashes now,
formless, as the divine.