Whenever you love someone whether it be your husband, wife, partner, your child or a dear friend, the ropes of fear immediately encircle your love. I believe that it is true, that as soon as you love, you open the door wide to loss.
Never would I turn from the joy and magic of loving another, but the fear is there, of that, I have no doubt.
When this love is ripped from us suddenly by death, the grief topples our reality and shadows our logic. There is no logic in loss. There is only the heart-breaking wish to turn back time.
The short story, The Monkey’s Paw written by W.W Jacobs in 1902 is a frightening parable that teaches many lessons, but for me it illustrates how very far one would go to bring back those we love. Jacob’s tale reaches into the darkness and offers a slender thread of hope to a grieving woman and we are left wondering…would I do the same?
The ancient mummified monkey’s paw carried the illicit promise of three wishes; however, the White family—the father, mother, and son— were warned, “that those who interfered with it did so to their sorrow.” Their first wish is made in jest, with no true longing for anything in particular, for as the father stated, “I don’t know what to wish for, and that’s a fact,” he said. “It seems to me I’ve got all I want.”
The paw awakens in the father’s hand, twitching with its black promise, and their wish for money comes along in the wake of their son’s death the very next day from an accident at work. Careful what you wish for…as my father liked to preach, life is not fair.
The mother, consumed by grief, recalls in the dark hours of the night, that they still have two wishes left. She can give life to her son again. “Get it, she panted; “get it quickly, and wish—oh my boy, my boy!” When her husband implores her that they must not, for their son had been mangled beyond recognition, she cries out only to “bring him back!”
In the middle of the night, when fear crawls along every nerve, the father makes the second charge to the monkey’s paw to “wish our boy alive again.”
They waited, these two once joined by a child between them, surrounded by the weight of silence in their home, both holding vastly opposing hopes lingering on their breath.
The footsteps that eventually crunch through the frost and the mist outside their home, filled the father with foreboding, for he knew that what they had called forth was no longer their boy.
With the first loud knock on the front door, the father scrambled for the monkey’s paw, just as the mother struggled to release the locks to welcome her son back home. The father does what he must, he initiates the final wish, and when the mother wretched open the door, desperation almost choking her, there is only cold emptiness to fill her outstretched arms.
One minute your life is as it should be, the next you are knocked to the ground crippled by grief.
Tim Bosma, a 32 year old Ancaster, ON man was killed May 6, 2013 by men who answered his classified to sell his 2007 Dodge Ram pickup. His life, a priceless value of love to his family and friends, sacrificed for a used truck.
Tim’s wife said “I am broken”, and I can only imagine the searing pain that has settled in her chest.
Wouldn’t all of us, if we had the opportunity, offer up wishes to the unknown, or hand over all our coins to Charon the ferryman in Greek mythology, so that we could cross the river to the land of the dead to rescue those we have lost?
I think I would, I know I would want to.
It’s why I write of impossible events, and snuggle into the creation of magic realism. I want to be able to change the unchangeable.
The fact is, I don’t want to be the one left behind. I don’t want to be the one bent and broken, drowning long after the tears have ceased to flow.