How to Mourn by Samantha Mattox

1. Worry.
Be scared of yourself, you never miss people when they’ve left, only when they’re leaving. If someone dies will you remember them the way they were? Will you remember to miss them? Don’t. You are tempting fate.

2. Fall.
The worst day of your life is here. Welcome it or you will be overwhelmed. Your grandfather is dead.You knew him. Knew. Past tense.
He is gone. You will not remember him as he was, you will miss the way you could have known each other. You will lose the past, don’t bother holding on, but the future presses down against you. You lose your footing inside your mind.

3. Crash.
Hide in your room. You are empty, cry anyways.
You weren’t close, you could have been. You were getting to know him. He will never read your poems again. He will never finish the poem he was writing. He will never read another story to you as you sit on his knee, his beard scratchy as you lean against his chest. That’s okay, you’ve been too big to sit in his lap for almost a decade now anyways.
Slam your notebook shut and send it flying into the shelves with a satisfying noise.

4. Burn.
Your suitcase is packed for the funeral. You want to read something. Your bookshelf is empty of words, it holds only blurred ink.
Pull out the keyboard. Write him one last poem. You will read it to his ashes. Inspiration sparks from grief, and you are glowing with grief.

5. Arrive.
There aren’t enough rooms in the house. You will sleep in his study. There is a bookshelf with every poem he ever wrote on it, ripped up nice and neat. It is an old house, the dust has already settled in. His desk is empty. You will write at it, fill in the spaces with words he will never hear. Wake up.

6. Speak.
You will wear shoes that pinch your toes, a black dress you will outgrow in only a month, you will have a typed up poem clenched between your hands, your teeth. Your sister will play her trumpet. You will learn more about him than you ever knew. You will stand up. You will read to the flowers around his urn. You will perform.
You will remember.

7. Live.
You have yet to visit his grave, maybe you never will. He will never see you grow up, but you will remember in his place. Let go of the past. The future is better without it.
You will remember, just as you will forget.


Samantha Mattox is a writer from Knoxville. She’s a 16-year-old junior in high school and has been writing for as long as she’s been reading--poetry, songs, short stories, and hopefully one of these days a novel.  As someone who is autistic, she hopes to help convey and understand how people see the world differently from each other, and how that is as wonderful as it is confusing.

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