by Tall Woman
How I savor those moments when we slip through the veil and reconnect. Down by the bridges this afternoon it felt like you were riding on my shoulder as an elf one moment, lapping at my heart’s hot blood the next. It seemed you were kneading my shoulder blades, as you so often did in life. Our life together was as good as we could imagine it being. To have mutual love, respect, humor and passions are great blessings. We were gifted. I miss your physical presence. I miss waking up to brand new songs each morning. I miss your hands and lips, the feel of your soft curls on my cheek. The fragrance of your sweat pulls me backward. It seems I just miss resurrecting you in the image of love time and again.
Do you remember Sprite’s saying after Walter died? “The hard stuff is twice as hard and the fun stuff is only half as fun.” That, and, “the only thing you can count on in life is change” are two of the things I like to remember about her. Her being a shameless addict, gossip and snoop right in the open commanded my respect. I loved that about you too. Being socially incorrect with pride is an admirable capacity. One of my favorite times was when you rubbed your hands with glee as you opened the closet door and asked, “what can I wear today that’ll piss off the docs?” You did a great job. Your embroideries, Birkenstock’s, tie died socks and rainbow suspenders helped. It was your competence and compassion that infuriated them. They had to choose you, even though you doctored Panthers too. They hated you for that.
Do you remember the secretary at the school where I worked a couple of decades ago? You called and left a message with her in the first few days I was there. You told her you were El Magnifico. The slip she wrote it on had all manner of hearts and stars doodled on it. During lunch she came into my office all wide eyed and breathless to find out who El Magnifico was. She was abashed when I told her because she fell in love with you during a three minute telephone conversation. I sympathized with her and thought she was probably crazy. We started spending some of our lunch times together. She was a delightful woman. In the course of our noon talks she taught me about the life of a single mom. She was bright, funny, kind hearted and honest. She worked hard and sacrificed her education to make a life for her eight year old daughter. She never stopped wanting to meet you. You didn’t want to. You were nervous she’d be too vulnerable to your charms. Then she had the stroke. She was only thirty.
One day she was at work as usual. We went to the beach during lunch that day. She spoke of how the sounds of the sea soothed her soul. She referred to the beach as home. “Let’s go home for lunch” was what she said when life was harried. We’d go sit on a bench on the cliff next to the convent and talk over the sound of the surf crashing below. That’s what we did that Friday afternoon. When I got to work on Monday the office was buzzing. She stroked out over the weekend. I went to the hospital to see her. She was comatose. I got hold of her chart. It was a massive bleed. She wasn’t going to make it back. They had the TV playing at her. She hated TV. I got an automatic replay tape deck, a tape of ocean sounds, and disarmed the television. Relatives put her in a nursing home down the coast. I didn’t see her until a few months later when I was loitering in a hospital corridor while you were doing Sunday rounds. She was on a gurney outside the surgical suite. She was permanently comatose and they were going to operate on her. I took her hand. She didn’t seem to be in that body.
I finally introduced you. You intervened. Her doc had been a student of yours. You had more to teach him. We took him out for coffee and I told him of her. You made it possible for her to become real to him. We got her another tape player. A week later she was dead. She knew you were a crucial person in her life from that one phone call. How right she was. Thank you, El Magnifico. You were a great doc.
My heart is heavy with grief for you. It’s changed with the years. At first I spent most of my time on my hands and knees with snot pouring out of my face. It was during that time I was drawn to the witches. I had no conscious participation in that piece of magic. It was one of those magnet things.
While I was arranging the flowers for your memorial service, I felt you with me. It seemed you pushed on my shoulder blades and told me the weight of my world could be shared. Jane read me the mail while I did the flowers. A brochure for a program that had the mother superior of a local witch gang on the faculty caught my ear. When I finished those flowers I knew what to do next. I saw a view of San Francisco over the bay with the sun setting behind her. The witch class was held outside in a garden with that view. Thank you for the push.
I felt you again on the way to the orientation. Do you remember how nervous I was? It felt like you were there next to me all the way. That guy on the motorcycle passed us on the summit like we were going backwards. He was on the way to becoming body parts on the side of the road when we caught up to him. He was having a seizure. When the veil opened for him there was such a vacuum I nearly followed. It seemed it was my time, my opportunity, that he fell through by mistake. I resented him for making it and leaving me stuck on the wrong side, again. I didn’t feel you with me for a while after that. Oh, I was mad at you then. I took it out on anybody foolhardy enough to get within striking distance. I was shameful. It seems it was all for a purpose. That behavior weeded out the faint of heart and uncommitted. That was just about everybody. It was time to plumb the depths of my solitude. What a rich garden it is. This time is a gift. You seem more evolved than when you had a body, maybe because you no longer speak. That’s done a lot for your character. Now that you just have your energy to throw around, you’re moving it with more grace. Losing the scalpel was a good thing too. I miss the songs though.
You are your fragrance. At times it seems you’ve shape shifted into local wildlife. You’re woven as tightly into the fabric of my being as ever you were in your body. Thank you for standing by me. I need you. Sometimes I get so lonely it seems I’ll never get my chest open wide enough to suck in air. Other times I find myself upside down and backwards. Will I ever find forward again? It’s the little stuff that invokes the victim in me. Like the ants crawling all over the kitchen counter for the past three days. There’s cayenne everywhere! It looks like they’ve adapted a taste for it. As she said, “the hard stuff is twice as hard.” Remember when the bats flew into the house? You were terrified because of the rabbis shots ordeal you went through. You weren’t going to be cowed though. One would have sent you diving for cover, or to a friend’s house. Not with three. Your ire went up. You outfitted us in pith helmets, gloves, hiking boots, and pj’s. I thought of the tennis racquets. They worked too. We got them out in no time without hurting anybody. Or I did? Hard stuff can be fun when the right folks get partnered up. We were good for each other. We were even good when we were horrible to each other.
Remember all the traffic tickets you talked yourself out of? You were the worst driver ever to get behind a wheel. Cops loved to pull over your haughty cars. Then you’d lay on the charm, the wit. You’d cut to their quick in milliseconds. They groveled at your feet.
Your best work along those lines was three months before you died. By then you were blind. You were wired with more electronic gadgetry than our home. And, your license was up for renewal. You hadn’t driven in years, but you didn’t want to let go of the card with all those rights and privileges. We agreed that I would wait outside. I wanted you to know I didn’t interfere with the attainment of your heart’s desire. When you came out on the arm of the DMV employee I thought the jig was up. I was impressed with how well you were bucking up to the disappointment. When you sat down I patted your knee in sympathy. You turned on your brightest beam and handed over your renewed license. I keep it in the top drawer of my desk. When life feels impossible, I pull it out and remember anything can be done. You’re in a class by yourself. Writing to you feels good. I have so much to tell you. You flame my passions yet. After all that has passed, you are still the sun my leaves stretch to be embraced by. Your radiance sweetens my sap. My branches want to dance on the breezes in your bright beam.
I have a patchwork life emerging out of the chaos. It gets old being married to a dead guy, no matter how much you love him. A need is emerging. My solitude is souring into loneliness. It’s time to explore sharing my life again. Will you be my witness? Isn’t that the challenge of marriage? To know someone to the bone and keep loving them anyway is sacred. Imagine being able to continue to do that. Do you think that’s what we’re up to?
Do you remember how we used to explore the edges of our bond? It seemed to go back to when we were trees in a forest together and before that as chips off the same rock. We never found a limit. In one trance it seemed we were dust particles swirling in the winds of a distant planet in another galaxy on a time helix different than this, but together. Is there enough soul space for me to live in love with embodied folks too? Is this connection with you a way to divert myself from the task of recreating a life? Or, is it to give me the time and space to develop my relations with the muses? Am I being an ingrate for wishing for more? My sexual companion loves me, as I do him. My heart is heavy though. That has to do with my wanting that live with, sleep with, get the bats out of the house kind of togetherness. My bed friend and I don’t have that kind of love. The love necessary to stand by someone is huge. We were lucky. I couldn’t do it without that kind of bond. I want to find my courage. This longing is getting in the way of my being the best I can be.
Know you’re loved. You always were and always will be. Thank you for being my key and my door so many times in so many forms. Different keys open different doors. I want to be the brightest beam I can be. To do that, there are more thresholds to cross.
Bless your bones, beloved.