Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Year I Died.

The Year I Died

I wish I could say there was something in the air that year. Something that set it apart. Remember that year the cows wouldn’t calve and the wheat turned black in the field? There wasn’t. Winter came late, spring came, flowers bloomed, grass grew immoderately and harbored rogue dandelions without remorse. So normal. It will be the same for you, you’ll see.

Even my death sprouted quietly; a second look, a second thought, a second opinion: Does this feel strange to you? The surgeon’s receptionist, sympathetic, with a full calendar she squeezed me into. I railed against the ordinariness.

Wouldn’t you think a year would be time enough to finish? I did. In a way it was: It was time enough to plan. My emotions flashed around me like mercury. All business, like I had always been, I would dissolve instantly into fecklessness, then re-emerge.

It was time enough for loose ends. A friend told me I was lucky to have the chance to close things up. Get my affairs in order. He was right, but I never forgave him for saying so. You won’t either; should you have such a friend, you’ll see.

She could never cry easily. I always thought of the Wicked Witch, melting into her own tears. I waited a long time to tell her – too long. She hasn’t forgiven me for that, either.

The green plot I had planned on? I finally bought it, and made the funeral arrangements before she knew. Did I say she hates to cry?

She could never have chosen to put me in the dirt. Later, she liked it, the oak I had planted there, and the warm, rough stone that hugs the earth. She went there a lot. Eventually, she went less and less, but never stopped altogether, even when a new life began. Sometimes, the woman leans with her against my tree.

My son – so grown already! He was a man before that year began. He was past my worry, my dread for his future. He could already see his future, his life, his family. I got a glimpse of it, too. He got a little money, not much. I never intended to leave him a fortune, just an education and some good sense. The money became a down-payment on their first home, the one where both children were born.

I told you she hates to cry? That never changed. I wrote letters so I wouldn’t have to see her grief. So she wouldn’t have to see mine. Some of them felled entire forests. Some were a sentence long. Dozens burned.

You’ll love someone again, I wrote. You think you won’t, but you’re too good at it. I’m not saying you should meet someone at the service. Just don’t reject the idea. Some day it won't seem so impossible. You’ll see.

Don’t make any big decisions for a while, Sweetie. Don’t keep the house for me, but don’t decide anything for a year. Okay?

There’s a hornet’s nest in the lilac again – please be careful!

The password to my email is Gotcha! in case you want it. Tom B. is the insurance agent, and Edward D. manages my 401(k). Their numbers are on the fridge.

John is a smart kid, but he doesn’t understand money. Please try to get him to start saving now. Work with Becca – I think she has a good head on her shoulders.

I love you more than I can say. Keep moving.

And so on.

I have forgotten much of that year, that year I died. So have they, but that’s okay. They still get sad in the autumn, at that ragged time when the leaves have given up, because that’s when I gave up, too. Not because I was ready, like the romantics will tell you, or because it was my time. It was like all those summers in the pool, trying to break my own breath-holding record. Eventually, I had to give up and shoot toward the surface, desperate for the relief the hot air would bring.

Think of me as shooting toward the surface.

4 comments:

wahooweena said...

Did you write this? It's incredible.

¡Vizcacha! said...

Seriously? You don't mean incredible like, it's incredible you would post this in public?

Thank you! I've been a little embarrassed by it.

wahooweena said...

Silly. I mean it's incredibly wonderful! It's so incredible that I googled it to find the author then realized that it must have been you!

¡Vizcacha! said...

Haha! Cool, thanks. Yes, I wrote it.

Annie said tonight "I read your story. It was wonderful. I never want to read it again. It should be published someplace. I never want to read it again."