For Izzy Bialer Lapidus

I join a bereavement group
But I last for one session
Marriages over fifty years
Died suddenly
Brain aneurism
Long battle with cancer
I am the only one
Who isn’t crying
The only one
I don’t know these people
What am I doing here?
We go around the conference room
Name tags
Introduce ourselves
I last for one session
When it’s my turn
I pull out
A framed photograph of you
Colleagues in my office
Blew it up
Framed it
Placed it on my desk
A professional photo shoot
For your work
Your high forehead
Rouged cheeks
Simple, warm smile
But I am taking you home
Happen to have you in my bag
I can’t look at you everyday
It’s the photo
Used in your obituary
Memorials and tributes
I had never seen it before
Never seen it before
This was my wife
This was my wife

My almost 17 year old daughter Izzy
Summer school
In Boston
Doing well there
One of the elderly women in the group
Nobody calls me
I’m lonely
I need you people
I need this group
People shouldn’t ask me
What I need
They should just bring me food
I don’t want to tell them
Just do something
Do something

She points across the table
At me
Your child
Is just a baby
And I have news for you
She is not okay
She is not okay

I am the only one
Who isn’t crying
I don’t want to sit here
And cry
With people I don’t know
I want to learn
How to cope
How to live
How to keep going
I can’t look
At you everyday
I last for one session
I am taking you home
I have memorized
Your social security number
Filled it out
Countless forms
Countless
Mailed copies
Of your death certificate
I am getting used to the new bicycle
Which is actually used
I rode it around the park this morning
Pushups, pullups
Alternating V ups
Then photography in Manhattan
Keep going everyday
Try to find a rhythm
A rhythm
I am in a paddle boat
On a vast ocean
Paddling
Moving slowly
A vast ocean
I want to learn
How to cope
How to live
I have memorized
Your social security number
I unwrap
A framed collage of photos
You had custom made for me
A recent anniversary
Don’t you want to hang it?
I went out of my way

I never did anything with it
Never hung it
I unwrap
A vast ocean
Photos from our wedding 26 years ago
Me cradling newborn Izzy
She on your lap as a toddler
You and me
Our arms around each other
So many times
A vast ocean
Early in our romance
You on my lap
A flowered dress
Hugging me
Hugging
Snaking up
I am taking you home

Matt Bialer
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