The task of the sin eater was simple– to relinquish the dead of their earthly misdeeds. The family placed water by the corpse of their beloved, bread was broken on their chest, salt sprinkled across their stomach.
The sin eater partakes of the bread and salt, quenches their thirst with the water. Depending on custom, tradition or rumor, sin eaters were paid a pittance, not at all, or took the pennies from the eyes of the deceased as their remittance.
Occasionally, I receive an email that haunts me, one that leaves an image that burns my retina like a bright flash.
(Orange rope, blue shirt; green plastic bag, red gas cylinder…)
I never dislike receiving them, never mind reading them. I just try to make sure I’m in a good place when I open them, so I am prepared… I make sure I open them on good days, so the effect they have on my afternoon will be minimal.
I understand… on so many levels, I get it. This is so rare, what I’ve seen, what we’ve been through; and it’s so taboo to be the one left behind, after a suicide. No one speaks about it, it seems. No one except me.
And I find hands reaching for me, constantly seeking me out in this darkness. People who have seen the same. People who have a picture in their mind somewhere, something ugly.
I take thehorrific pictures burned into their mind like shots from a bright camera flash along with my own burning pain and lock them away in place no one else can see. Somewhere where their ugliness won’t spill out and taint the entire world with it’s shrieking trauma, it’s enveloping velvet darkness.
(turn on the light an she’s just there, just ninety centimeters away hanging by her neck and my God she’s been there two days)
Evry comment and every email I get, from every person who reads my stuff, gives me something. Every one adds a tiny piece of happy, a tiny piece of OK, a tiny piece of self esteem… and they all build up to create a finger-knitted barrier of belief in myself. Something that helps me survive when everything else falls down.
But I will admit that some emails make me jealous, when I let myself be… jealous that others have me, where I did not. And instead of being locked up and held tight, my ugly truth was spread all over and everywhere.
It’s not that I’m ashamed of it– I never will be, I don’t think. It’s more a matter of the pity my reality inspires when I see it on the faces of people who know almost kills me some days. It’s the only thing that comes to close to breaking me, ever… seeing the reality of how very difficult this actually must be, in the stark normality of others eyes.