1. “To love is to feel your death

    given to you like a sentence,

    to meet the judge’s eyes

    as if there were a judge,

    and he had eyes,

    and love” –Christian Wiman

Phyllis and Dave.  She climbed in the bed and held him.  Arms and legs stretched in angles over him with the kind of ease only the two of them could know.  She was there because he was her Dave. She was there in the bed with him because of and despite his cancer and chemo ridden body

Grandma and Papa.  Her tender and comforting gaze poured forth over him, her second husband, her transformative second chance.Unshaken by the sounds of  breath clamoring in and out of his withered-ballon like chest.  Softest caresses sprung out of a thing, a love that was all their own, shared still in the broken stillness of his age’d and crooked body

My own self and my father, John.  Softly alarming bells and tones and beeps amidst us melding into a symphonic medical language I’ve had the occasion to come to understand.  Reciprocal protectiveness between a man and his daughter in the shadows and hues of an ICU room outfitted to accommodate  life’s resilience and frailty

Aunt Christy and her Laura.  Nineteen year old fingers peeking out from under white sheets.  Orange nail polish across the nail-beds of fingers no longer animated with intention.  Clumsy and well-intentioned tubes attached to her and to mechanics engineered to offer breath when life makes its bow from the crowd.  Mother’s hands combing through brown hair and dried clumps of scabby blood. Her fifty year old finger tips across brown strands, gently playing the harp music of maternal care and sorrow.

My father and his brother Michael.  Candle light and incense and the swollen alcoholic abdomen of his baby brother.  No longer fluffy with guile and baby brother playfulness.  A man stretched out in loss along the couch breathing and dying in the comfort of his brother’s protective home.  Breathing and dying outside the comfort of his wife’s harp-like fingertips.  Standing in his mind, at the station where the next Jacob’s ladder would lead him to his Laura, his baby.

A man named Edward.  Once tall and filled to the brim with the limerick of the old Irish world.  Now laying in a bed alone in the soft light of day’s end.  Body lumped with tumors, sarcomas first felt when they were battening down the battens in the soft light of a lake’s day end.  Pictures framed and loose-leaf of the faces of his four little boys (Thomas, Mark, John and Michael, daughter Patricia, wife Elaine) all face down now and mostly relegated to lonely drawers.  For the loneliness in those hours sprung out of gazing at those faces was more to bear than knowledge of his own death made by cancerous pain.

Black and white sepia’d picture.  Tall Edward limerick life.  Wife Elaine rosebud bow and arrow lips.  Leaning into each other in the softest of angles.  Lines of him meet the lines of her in shapes and soft reciprocity that occurs between two who love.  Warm eyes for the camera.  Relaxed limbs like long and lilting forsythia branches studded and budded with petals of yellow, brand-new life.

 

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