Lex Barrie


As if he was sucking on a sour lemon drop candy, his lips would purse to hold back the tears he would cry alone in his room, every night. The place where he couldn’t come out from, for fear I would see his eyes, bagged and black like the shadow of emotions that hung over him and the feelings of guilt that were painted on his face, in acrylics.

But what could I have done?

When I saw him take those pills, one everyday for two years, some days they worked while others were like this. Where he was washed away by the tides of his thoughts, the waves continually bashing his head on the rocks of his memories. I guess there were never enough pills to make him feel alive.

But what could I have done?

When I saw him lying there with the pill box of antidepressants the doctors gave him for the week, empty beside his cold, lifeless body, clutched in his gnarly fingers, as if he had tried to hold on one last time before blowing out the candle of his life as the wax was still melting.

When his flame went out though, mine burst into anger and hate.

What could I have done?

And each time I asked myself, each time I tried, why would he do this? Didn’t he know he had us, the ones who loved him? Who would wait outside his door hoping to see him and tell him everything would be okay? Each time I tried, there’s nothing but silence. Like when the snow falls the first time, the light and soundless flutter of the flakes as they fall, but then comes that cold wind that chills you to the bone that blows out that same damn candle that was keeping you warm and suddenly you’re in darkness and don’t know where to go or who to turn to.

But what could I have done?

His mind was always wound up like a spool of thread too tight to unwind. Now I feel this anger and hate, that he gave to me as his parting gift from this world. I am filled with it and no matter how hard I try to hate him for leaving me, for making my mom cry herself to sleep every night for another two years or for making me wish I was dead too, I can’t seem to escape the ringing in my ears, that voice that says “He never meant to hurt you, he just felt there were no other options”.

I hear this voice and think that I should’ve cared…because he was my dad, right? So shouldn’t I have cared about how he felt? Shouldn’t I have tried to help him? Cause I heard it was better to talk than keep those emotions bottled up inside. Cause when those waves of tears and emotions come crashing in, all you can do is drown and you die…alone.

My dad wasn’t perfect, he wasn’t even there half the time. Too full of his antidepressant pills that never seemed to work anyways. When I think about him, I think about how we all watched him suffer. From the crack in his doorway, where I would see him take one pill everyday, for two years and yet, never say a word. I wish I had told him, how much I loved him. Or at least, done something. But what could I have done?

August 5, 2018

2 thoughts on “What could I have done?

  1. That is simply beautiful, Alexis! I sit here, choked up as I write this, and I, a writer, can think of nothing to say. Just lovely.


    1. Thank you so much. The poem means a lot to me and writing helped me to focus on the negative emotions of past events and remember that there was nothing that could have changed them. You just have to remember people by the happy times before they pass and not blame yourself for what has happened. That’s what’s important.


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