Thursday, October 27, 2016


She lay quietly in the twilight of her life, waiting. Patience has grown thin over the years, as has her frame...angles and softness at war with one another as time marched across her features and her innards, pulling in directions always headed downward. Interestingly, she did not care. This was a moment she'd waited for all her life. She exhaled.

Like a gossamer fog the veil began to lift, turning light from the density of reality to the shimmer of a dream and she, a lone traveler, embraced the step to the train, watching it grow curiously stronger as she hung on and heaved herself aboard. Its chugging sounds and steam tasted like a memory as she found her way to a seat, alone in the car. Pulling from the station and picking up speed, she sat straighter than she had in years, feeling time melting away, backward and yet forward as the countryside flew by, leaving this place and bound for another. Illness and oldness and heartbreak and healing, she let the window down and tipped her face into the sun. It was on the wind; it was in the sky. She felt him waiting like a kiss and a promise and anticipation fluttered in her heart, filling that empty space that had lay dark, in pain and lonely so long.

Across the aisle sat a glimmering being, head tilted just so, watching her with a small smile. She smiled back in recognition, realizing this presence had been there all these long years with her. She wanted to reach out and touch him. Thank him. A giggle bubbled up in her mind as foibles and embarrassments flew between them wordlessly and before she knew it, they were laughing together. She felt his fatigue and his pride. He'd never let her go. He'd never let her down. Not once. She felt him say the same to her. Would he be leaving her now, she wondered?  No. No, she would be joining him now instead of the other way around. With this she relaxed again and turned once more to the window. Hills came swiftly now, rolling with the gentle greenery of Ireland and Scotland and every beautiful place she'd ever and never seen.

Out and out the window she gazed, her focus becoming intent with purpose. The light changed within a breeze scented with hope upon which she was flying now, grass green and crisp on her feet like it was as a child. Joy tickled at her until she could no longer walk. She felt him now, near and anticipating, as she was. People began dotting the landscape, waving to her with light-filled smiles, wanting to see her, wanting her to stay but excited that she could and would not. They knew what waited for her...WHO waited for her.....She registered their presence and her own recognition in little waves of glee, her every being urging her on, fingers fluttering to them as she moved. People became more frequent, more familiar.....friends, children, patients she had known, their stories written in the very core of their energy, instantaneously told and remembered. She began to cry, all those things she didn't even remember throughout her years mattering so much more than she knew. They patted her on by, pressing gently, encouraging her to take it all in. Here now was family, beautiful, whole, well in mind and in body. Scents of fried chicken and the sound of hogs in the yard, Grandpa with his crooked little smile and massively warm hands, Grandma with her voice and her hug, lightening bugs dazzling and dancing the air. Huettners and Reichmuths and babies and dogs.....Sparky joined her now, running, mouthing her forearm with a yelp of joy as he used to do and she laughed the laugh of a girl as they ran together, tireless with the gait of the young.

Over the hill now, hair streaming like a wild thing behind her.....and suddenly into the arms of her father, his mustache tickling as they embraced and kissed and cried..... every proud moment he'd missed, every "good job" she'd longed to hear echoing in her head with a power that she knew was his way of trying to reach her all these long, long years apart. She smelled his Paul Sebastian, felt his bristled cheek and then his hand pressed her away with a mute "not yet", gesturing to the path, assuring her he'd be right behind her as he always had been. And then she knew. This was it. It was time.

She made to take a deep breath, to start again in that direction and a figure appeared on the hill. She knew his walk. The shape of his head. The curve of his hands. He was coming. She could not still her soul. Hearts no longer beating thumped strong through the air between them.

Like the racing of a pulse,
with a rush like falling in love
she torn across the field to him,
down into the valley where he was waiting
and smiling,
so much the same
and so much different
And every sweetness that ever existed across heaven and earth cascaded in that moment
Dancing like snowfall around them.

She drew herself to him, the lingering feeling, the age-old memory of his skeleton form from the last hug they'd shared coming now to find the fullness of a ripe, whole, healthy being. He held on, hardly having known she was gone and she cradled his head and kissed him, a million questions silenced in that moment...silenced for the rest of all time, silenced until they ceased to have ever existed at all. She closed her eyes, knowing she'd been held all along, just as she had held him. Knowing him. Knowing, finally, herself.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Trick or Treat, Joseph style

Yesterday was a pretty good day in all. We are redecorating a couple of rooms downstairs and I spent time after work researching all sorts of furniture, rugs, window treatments, accents, televisions, TV stands and the like. It gets pretty overwhelming and trying to buy quality stuff over the Internet can be deceptive. I took a break to go to the gym. I take it as a sign of my progress on my own health, as I had the urge to peek into a couple of stores while still dressed in my workout clothes. 

A local discount store is right across the street from my gym. Every now and then something of value can be found there, so I dropped in to see what I could see. It hit me as I walked in that I had been to this store at this time of year right in the months before Joseph died. He had relapsed and was spending the majority of his days under lock down in the transplant unit due to his severe immune compromised state. I had gone into this store that year and purchased a ton of Halloween decorations and then brought them to the hospital to surprise him. We delightedly turned his hospital room into a creep zone. It is one of my most treasured memories and one of the few in which he was happy while in the hospital. We had fun.

Going into this particular store at this particular time of year used to just bring me to my knees. This time, it was fine. A little bittersweet, a little melancholy, but I actually smiled and enjoyed the good memories that came from that time. I went about my shopping with a little ache in my heart, but nothing too debilitating. As I was walking around though, something happened in my head that literally has not happened in YEARS. I saw something and felt that unconscious prick of "Joseph would love that, wonder how much it is". I came up short right away, but that subconscious urge to pick up something for Joseph startled me. It happened often in early days, of course, right after his death, but faded gradually over time as the permanence of his loss settled in to part of my every day life. I would have though no part of my brain could tease me like that anymore. It was a little shocking. A little sweet. A little sad. It was a weird item too, like blue dyed Cheetos balls or something I can barely remember now. Something that would have amused him for being different. I was always trying to feed him. He got so thin.

So yeah. Ten years later, apparently it can still surprise me. The difference now is that it doesn't derail my day. If anything, it gives me some peace to know he is right here inside me, as real as he ever was. I carry him in my heart.