You reclined on the couch. I remember. You reclined on the couch with your feet dangling and the remote control working in your hands to find channels on the new television. You said that you liked the size of it, and I laughed with my eyes still fixed on the computer. Our nephew was playing somewhere in the area, running his line of cars across the hardwood floors.
A sudden thought broke my concentration. I saw that you were asleep when I turned around. The child was still busying himself with the toys; using his mouth to make the sound trucks make. And I watched you for a short while – I do not know why. For no signals in the wind suggested that this was our last day together. No voice from outer space pitied me enough to even whisper that only two days stood between you and death.
It had already been recorded in the atmosphere.
We were like children again, I thought, laughing at some joke in the hallway. We could always come across a good laugh between us. I heard you tell the little boy to wait for us to accompany him down the stairs. I stayed by the door with a leg touching the old television, while you searched for a place in the hall where you could briefly rest your drink; a large cup of that sweet tea you had loved so much, with a plastic lid and straw. But there seemed to be no place that could hold it. You looked over at me and grinned.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
In the still and chilly parlor, they placed your body amidst a sea of petals; with hundreds of empty seats before you; with air and solemn music flowing – possibly from the vents. And life was at such a standstill for those of us that had arrived – just us four at first, bearing witness to what the others would come to see. We huddled like displaced orphans, in a cluster not far from the casket, too stunned even to speak; too stricken even to let out a whimper, at least for the moment. And in time we were moved to action, arranging things to suit you best; working to give ourselves distraction; wanting our love for you to be on display. We twisted the towering wreaths so that the roses could confront the crowd. And our family soon appeared in a mass of hesitant black, with the elders leading the group like priests guiding a pilgrimage. And as they ventured forward, staggering and gasping for breath, the group disassembled in the aisles and there were tears everywhere.
Friday, May 20, 2011
They lifted you, up the stairs and out into the living room, marching right past us and our waiting, widening, worried and weeping eyes. They carried you as if you never had any weight at all, like black plastic bedding or a hammock elevated at the ends. But it was you; you they were taking, your body that they were fetching out. Your body! Oh Omnipotent God, let the ground open up and take us all!
Thursday, May 19, 2011
I cried in the bedroom, sinking to the bed with word just received and the phone slipping from fingers that had loosened their grasp. I cried on the thruway, clinging to the steering wheel before veering off the exit to seek the safety of the service road. I cried in the mirror with a face full of shaving cream and steam rising to blur vision that had already misted over. I cried in the chapel, convulsing on the chapel walls. And out in the streets, rain was falling.
Monday, May 16, 2011
For even in this great and sudden exit the Divine has shown us mercy; it allowed us to stoop at the base of the platform and position your flowers around the frame. We moved like stage-hands in suits just before a curtain call; working with a swift resolve for perfection, suppressing the reality that the last of you was before us, motionless. We twisted the towering wreaths so that the roses could confront the crowd. Whenever they finally arrived, they would have to look upon the mountains that were erected for you. We loved you so.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
I only pray for the ability to accept the fact that you have fulfilled your purpose. I ask God for the pause not to wake up and wonder if the clouds have exploded, and the mountains collapsed, if the rivers have flooded over and the walls of every city have tumbled – they should; all things in the world should stand still – even if only for a moment – when someone of your caliber has left it.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Drag me out, feet first, into the highest point of day; pull and tug me fast so that my arms can cut themselves on scattered pebbles and broken glass; cover me with dust and let it dissolve deep into the wounds; and leave me to weep, just leave and let me weep.