A Fatherless Daughter: Ophelia

John Everett Millais - Ophelia (detail), 1851

And will he not come again?
And will he not come again?
No, no, he is dead,
Go to thy deathbed.
He never will come again.
His beard was as white as snow,
All flaxen was his poll.
He is gone, he is gone,
And we cast away moan,
God ha' mercy on his soul.

Thinking about Ophelia, about how I read Hamlet several months after my father's death and could only focus on the grief within the text. Nothing else mattered. Hamlet was fatherless and so was Ophelia and that meant something to me. Ophelia was grief-stricken, out of control, out of her mind, wandering in the woods, singing to herself, speaking a grief language of her own and I needed access to that. I needed the image of her with the flowers. I thought of her in the waters where she died, her skirts soaked, her body drowning just like I wanted to drown. She was my heroine. I was a quiet girl, a good girl, going to school every day, hiding my grief, only releasing it when I was alone in my room at night. What should a grieving girl, a bleeding girl, do? Rant and rave? Go mad like Ophelia? She never came back from her despair and anguish. She felt it too deeply. She was not spared. And because of this she became my love. I wrote poems about her and collected portraits of her. She became a part of me. We are the grieving girls, the fatherless daughters, the haunted ones, and nothing can save us.