As I lay dying
as the clouds collect across my window and
I want to know I leave with your mercy
your unconditional love
and the empathy of your heart
I pray you consider
how much of my heart will
live and breathe in you
forgive me with a full, open soul
not for times when sorry was enough
but for the moments when I broke hearts and left disappointment in my wake
remember me for who I was, not who the world tried to make me at times
a good person
who laughed from the endless well of my soul
and loved the best that I could
"If you are ready to leave father and mother, and brother and sister, and husband and child and friends, and never see them again-if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled your affairs, and are a free woman, then you are ready for a walk." 'Modern' Thoreau
My thoughts and heart are with Lolly. My gait is slow and tempered, as her breaths have now become the measurement of her last living moments. The wind keeps trying to swat my grief away, but its spread across every cell. Every muscle feels clamped and coiled, waiting for the inevitable.
I keep walking as far from the campus building as possible. Every other person or vehicle is an unwelcome distraction, and I want to scream, “SHUT THE FUCK UP, MY FRIEND IS DYING.” A car’s tires swishing over asphalt, the tap/echo of footsteps are annoyances to my pain. I crave silence, a place where I can reflect and cry in solitude.
Finally, I sit next to a street lamp in an unoccupied section of the parking lot, leaning my back against the grainy concrete, feeling my bones struggling to find comfort on the sidewalk. From here, I can see the vista of the New Mexico landscape, the mountains layered in muted shadows, differentiated by the saturation of color. My mind wanders back to Lolly, and I think of how she loved this land, how Santa Fe was a refuge for her heart, and how it brought her peace when she would sit on her back porch over looking the Ortiz mountains, streaks of sunset littering the sky.
Now, the sky is clotted with gray clouds, only flashing shards of blue peeking through the cover. I’m praying for rain, for the sky to be a bowl of fierce weather that shakes and cracks open with a flood of healing tears. I want her spirit to wash away from her body through this storm, to have her essence be spread deep into the earth. I want her all around me, because the heartache of saying goodbye is crushing.
My eyes will not stop weeping, and I am leaving pieces of my heart all over the sidewalk. Despite the intermittent sun and warm breeze, I feel cold, and I wonder if Lolly is cold. She deserves warmth and tenderness in these final moments.
Walking back, I struggle to hold back my emotions and tears, wiping my eyes clean. I take moments to lay my hands on things my friend can not feel: scratchy tree bark; plump, small, tree leaves; the miniature, sunny wildflowers that make the long stretch of desert bearable to the eye.
Again, the noise trickles in and I feel my body tense more. It is not fair that the world keeps moving. I crave silence to process my conflicting thoughts: I want my friend to die because she is suffering, and her body is broken, yet I cannot imagine my life without the color she brings to the world. It feels selfish to want her in two worlds, caught between letting go and holding on.
Out in the distance, a hawk soars through the clouds in circles, and I imagine Lolly’s spirit lifting up and outward to the world, shedding the pain shackling her. Its feathers are poised to float on the gusts streaming across the land, and I stare in awe at its grace, and with sorrow that I am unable to fly beside. I watch it glide up through the clouds until it is hidden from view, and extending my palm, I blow a kiss to the sky. I know she will catch it.
From my memoir class, prompted by I remember:
I remember when you were vibrant, your hair
massaging your shoulders, limbs long
and lean, your smile the flash of sunlight
You lie in the gigantic bed, your emaciated
body pale and withering, your head bald
with a small growth of fuzz reminiscent of
a baby bird’s down
The oxygen wired to your nostrils keeps
you breathing, but your spirit is already
walking out the door
Your soul still fills the room, and once in
a while your laughter reminds us of days
when time was inconsequential, and we
could afford the luxury of living life
that had no meaning
The rest of the time, we mourn you
in silence even though you’re still here
I don’t know how to love you any less
even though you are disappearing
Reflections of a woman spawned in a cement cocoon...