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Chapter XX: The House Of Elephants


Of all the adventures, insanity, and metamorphoses that have taken place in my life, there has always been one constant in the background, The House Of Elephants. A home in north Florida that’s been in the family for over a century, with a body count of what we think is around thirteen.


Filled with dust, bugs, and hundreds of little decorative elephants. Having been trinkets loved by multiple generations of the family, the collection had grown to an outrageous level by the time I’d returned to the home for Mom’s funeral.

Stagnant residual energy from deaths of decades past knocks you back ten feet when you open the front door. The remnants of the presence of a preacher man who unrelentingly worshiped God still echoed through the walls. My Mother’s laughter still reverberating. You could burn a hectare of sage and it couldn’t clear the vibes there. The elephants it would seem held onto much of the energy there. To no surprise of course, the home was electrified.

Returning home from the funeral, having awkwardly addressed a crowd that for the most part I didn’t even know, I was exhausted. Laying across a bed that fit someone a quarter of my size in the center room of the house I starred at the ceiling fan.

What am I supposed to do on the other side of this?

How will I get through the day without crying?

Should I even be crying? Is she even worth my tears?

Did the last few years of kindness she’d shown me makeup for the first twenty years of my life?


Did the fact that our last words to one another were ‘I love you’ make everything ok?

What happens when Dad dies?


I’ll have to do all this again.



My mind spun in circles, looping back around again and again to the constant, this just hurts. Eyes aching from crying for five days, I couldn’t stare at the ceiling fan anymore. Looking around the room, my focus settled on the dozens of elephants that adorned the bookcases filled with my Grandfather's old dusty books. Glass, geodes, clay, metal, wood, they were made of every material imaginable. They been there as long as I could remember, and I wondered how much of my life had imprinted energy upon them and this room. How much energy was imprinted upon all of them?


The urge to shut down, wall up, and avoid overwhelmed me. A master of avoidance, I could say fuck it, and walk away from every ounce of this pain and let it explode in the form of a lupus flare or high cortisol somewhere down the line. Grab all them feelings and shove them down right below my liver and let it fester.


Yup, sounds like a good plan. At least I know it’s a plan that I can accomplish successfully.

Alrighty, let’s cue up my favorite song and hop on that dance floor- DJ hit it with The Compartmentalization Conga!!!

Standing up and walking over to the bookcases, one of the elephants had caught my attention. It was made of jade, with one ear and one tusk broken off. Little bugger seemed to have live through some shit. I found it odd in twenty seven years I’d never noticed this one, even with having such an affinity for jade I’d worn the stone for years.

Holding this tiny, fragile, broken thing in my hands I knew one day I’d be the steward of this collection. When everyone was gone, lives said and done, I would be left to look after these things, these memories, these emotions. Whether I chose to face those feelings then or later, they would never cease to be something I’d live with. One day I would be the keeper of The House Of Elephants, the feelings, the haints & haunts, and the memories of my family.

That was just it though. I would be the keeper.

These things were not going to keep me. Those things, that house, the feelings, they were not going to own me. They were not going to define me or get shoved down, hidden away in my liver at the bottom of a bottle. No. There was no going back to that person anymore. 

I felt hope.

This sorrow, struggle, rage, and guilt, this was going to be my fuel.

I held that little jade elephant in my hands for a long time. Admiring its flaws as they made it more distinguished than if it’d been whole. Without re-defining what it was, or the strength the elephant symbolized, brokenness and all it had endured made it beautiful.

Unable to contain myself, I chuckled.

What irony.

Grief surrounding the loss of a parent is a complicated thing. It drowns you in sorrow, then burns you in rage, and drop kicks your soul in the dick with emptiness. Things that seemed absolutes are no now longer certain. Perspectives you’d aligned with, no longer make sense. Half of what brought you earth side is no longer here. It is confusing. Some days you know which way is up and some days you don’t. Smells that trigger memories can cut your day in half with panic and sorrow. You thought you were ready to forgive and forget, and then life takes you in a different direction. 


It is debilitating.

It takes time.

In time however, the pain lessened. The days lost to melancholy dissipated. Accepting as the days marched forward I’d already lived through the worst life could dish out having survived; my childhood, my grief, my myself, the scars carried within my soul only forged greater strength fueling forward momentum in life.

Only giving me further insight in how to always find the humor in the plight and fill the voids with laughter.

All images are copyrighted material of Sarah Rue. These images may not be used without the expressed consent of the owner under penalty of law.

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