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  • Grace Wayne

In Place of Your Voice

Come September 18th you’ll have been dead for six years. Six years of silence. A notable absence of your voice in every room I enter. I wear your clothes; I wear your perfume. Half of my face belongs to you. It’s as if someone tried to draw you from memory and they ended up with me. But an imitation of you is better than none of you.

I used to scream out in the night, praying for you to come back. I subconsciously held the belief that my grief was strong enough to cause the second resurrection. Reality set in and that scream progressed into a gentle whisper. Lying in bed, on the brink of sleep, I make sure to acknowledge you. I find an excuse to talk to you. Talk at you. At the end of each day, whether I have been running around or completely stationary, I give my thanks. I thank you for my health and happiness. Even when there was no happiness in my day, I thank you for the happiness that is to come. To be alive is to have hope. Then I tell you that I love you. For six years, I have ended each day with a declaration of love.

Women with good posture and red lips, 

Jimmy Choo perfume and daffodils. 

The gifts I bought you that made their ways back to me. 

Everything I own is a gift in some way or another.

Being outspoken even when you’re afraid,

be afraid and do it anyway. 

You live and then you die. 

Don’t let yourself get in the way.

Backup plans, back up plans for your backup plans. 

The belief that tomorrow will be a better day. 

You can have everything you want, 

you just have to decide what you want.

The tender words that come after a declaration of sadness, 

the sweetness in your voice as you promise that it will all be okay. 

Certainty in your promises. 

Laughter as you cry.

Changing your hair but never changing your face. 

Never trusting the way you feel after ten p.m..

This too shall pass.

Keep secrets but understand the risk, 

make peace with someone knowing your secrets, 

make peace with someone knowing you completely. 

Don’t let your guilt destroy you.

People love to help, 

but they rarely help themselves. 

Help yourself. 

Save yourself.

These are some of the things you taught me. These are some of the ways I remember you. Your legacy lies in the beauty you held; the beauty of your words.

My first inheritance was my name. I recall myself as a child, complaining about how boring my name was: I must’ve been ten. You told me, in a rather offended voice, that you named me after your favourite album. ‘Grace’, by Jeff Buckley.

I picture you as a child, fantasising about what you would name your child. Name me. As you grew older a list was formed. Sat with dad, you held that list in your hands. You picked up a pen and put a circle around Grace. I wonder if you kept that list. Everything you ever were and ever longed to be has been filtered down into one singular word. Through naming me, you live on.

As I’ve come of age, I’ve grown to love my name. I’ve allowed myself to be consumed with aesthetics, representing my soul through materials and symbols. My name is not just a word, it’s an album. The poetry of man, the instrumentals. There are so many simple, stupid questions I desperately wish for you to answer. Answers I will never receive. So it is, for lack of a better word, convenient for my name to be an answer. I know the record you loved enough to name your only daughter after. When I long for your voice to answer my prayers, I plug my headphones in and settle for what I can get.

There are endless possibilities of what you could’ve been. You spoke of becoming a nurse while in hospital, you spoke of lots of things. And you would’ve done it, there’s no doubt in my mind. You could’ve done anything. But it doesn’t matter now: what matters is the person you were. The impression you made on people. We look out into the night and we still see you. But oh, I miss the days when you weren’t a figure in the night’s sky. The days when I didn’t have to look for abstract signs of you. A clarity came into my body when you died, an entire life flashed before my eyes, you became part of me. I saw my birth, a baby crying, just wishing to be held. But I wasn’t just a child anymore; I was you holding me. Sleep deprived and covered in blood, a desperation to protect the voiceless. Staring down as well as up. I knew you too late.

March is a miserable month. There’s no other way to describe it. Mother’s Day and your birthday. Sam and I used to cut some daffodils from Nana’s garden and tie them with a ribbon. Well, the daffodils still bloom but this Mother’s Day there was no ribbon. They’re no longer a gift - just a symbol of what once was. March 20th, you would’ve been fifty-one. Happy birthday, Mum.


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