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By Sam Yau

When you put a bullet

through your brain,

you were only 27.

You used to tell me how

you’d sit alone in the park,

watching others in silence.

Dissociated, you said

you felt like a ghost,

an alien who didn’t belong.

One scene after another,

you’d relive each trauma

like a vivid full-sensory

replay, in endless loops

you couldn’t escape.

You withdrew from life to

avoid all possible triggers,

stayed in your dimly lit room

with the curtains drawn,

a prisoner of your fear.

You’d wake up wishing

you were still asleep,

you’d sleep, wishing

you’d never wake up,

in between,

you’d drink whisky

to numb your pain

until you puked.

With tears streaming

down your face,

you told me it was too late,

your brain had been damaged—

the alarm kept blasting

even when there was no fire—

it would not stop enflaming

past traumas in your mind.

You were a runaway car with

no brakes on your anger and

the gas pedal stuck to the floor.

I would hug you

and tell you

you would live.

You told me

you were already dead.

My heart was shattered

in a million pieces.

Fear gripped me,

my pulse pounded,

my body shook.

When I heard that

you were gone,

there was an explosion

of love for you in my heart.

I feel closer to you every day.

I see you everywhere—

a baby in a carrier,

a boy running to his dad,

a young man in a café,

birds, clouds…

It is my turn to be

endlessly triggered.

I never knew about the

bottomless well

of tears in me.

Your light has never dimmed.

You are so loved.

Your soul never carries

a trace of injury.

You have forgiven all who

hurt you in human life.

You time-travel back to

feel the love of

family and friends

you couldn’t perceive then.

You have signed up

to help mortals suffering

in the same way

from the other side.

I have been

dreaming of

my next life,

of being with you again,

to do a better job of

loving and

protecting you.

Will you let me be

your dad again?

Painting by Olena Zavakevych


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