For just one moment of human connection, warmth, kindness, empathy, bridging the divide between self and the other to meet in that one place of agreement, deep kinship and understanding, concord of mind and time, where words are unnecessary, anachronistic and arbitrary, that one moment when it is easy to believe there is no time, there is only now and knowing and the infinite.
Didn’t I see you standing on a corner, with your back to me, cascading hair dancing down your back, cell phone up to your ear to call for your ride, and it caught my breath, and it stopped my heart, and my brain exploded with memories of you.
Didn’t I see you by the side of the road, under a tree, walking a dog that belonged to the couple you were house sitting for, and the night reflected your face, and it caught my breath, and it stopped my heart, and my brain exploded with memories of you.
Didn’t I see you in a dream, always a few steps away, leaving, or waiting, your smile hidden and forbidden to me, and your voice a-calling my name, and it caught my breath, and it stopped my heart, and my brain exploded with memories of you.
It was a cold December rain
Too warm for snow
No place to go
Waiting here for you in that cold December rain
To Patty Sue, who I married in the third grade when we synchronized our swings on the elementary school playground and then honeymooned with in the arboretum of Old Man McCutcheon’s farm by exchanging glances of our privates. You giggled, and I blushed. Perhaps you don’t remember this, but I carry that memory like an old photograph in the plastic sleeves of my leather wallet next to my drivers license and health insurance card and that calendar from three years ago I keep meaning to throw out but it has a nice conversion table for tipping at restaurants on the back side that I refer to now and again. To Patty Sue, my first and best love. May your life be as rich and full as I imagine it to be.
She slumped back into the chair in the corner of the hospital room. The final beeps and alarms had been shut off, equipment disconnected and either removed or pushed out of the way. All of the doctors and nurses and orderlies and technicians and whatever else they were drifted out of the room to leave her alone with her grief. It had all happened so fast.
First father had passed. His heart unable to keep up with his age. It had been quick, and quiet just like he always was. Mother was another story, noisy, with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Oh, and the commandments. There were so many commandments. Pick this up for me. I need that. Make sure the paintings go to your sister. Throw out all the clothes. There’s money hidden in a book by the nightstand I never told your father about. Do this, do that, fix the things left incomplete. So like her mother.
And now there was only silence. Not the silence she shared with Father. His silence was peaceful, at least it used to be. There he was, standing close enough to watch, to help if needed, but far enough away to allow the world to happen as it would, to let her grow up and learn from the consequences of her choices. Later, especially after she moved out, that silence between them extended to the point she often forget it, he, was even there.
Mother, on the other hand, interfered too much, always talking, asking questions, making suggestions, correcting, fixing; in a word: mothering. More like smothering. Nothing was good enough for Mother. Not her choice of schools, apartments, partners, and even spouses. She’d learned to tune out the noise, to push the hurtful guilt-laden words into the background.
Now she was truly alone. They were both gone. It was still too early to know, but she wondered which she would miss the most: the noise or the silence. And which was she to her own children? What now would they miss most about her? Was she noise or silence for them, or both?