Gendered Death

By Kate Healey

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There is a tremendous amount of ‘seeing -to’ that our male counterparts never

The terrifying and sacred moments of intimacy that daughters endure and
subsequently cherish; the anointment into womanhood with the blood of
our predecessors.

My cousin, James, was steadfast and sensitive, concerned and sweet, always.

“It is hard to see Nan like this”, he confided in me on the porch, turning his head from
the May sun and my eyes.

I nodded, “I know, bud.”

And I did know.

I knew the tenacity it required to even kiss my grandmother hello without weeping.

To his credit, I have seen James carry an infant’s coffin on his nineteen year old
shoulder, and that is a weight which I will never know.

He will never know the weight of caring for someone,

the ache of being the maker of meeting ends,

the reader of omens and omissions.

James will never know the weight of carrying a living body from room to room,
weaving together the fragments of a routine from scraps of frivolous matters to
create a semblance of what was once her life.

He will only know what comes after the slow march towards death.

As attuned to the universe as he is, James will only know how to carry the
physical manifestation of our failed efforts to sustain she who always has
sustained us.

Kate Healey