One year ago yesterday I went to work. I called them ahead of time to give them a heads up I might need to leave, should I get a call from my mom. If I got the call, the call, I would know it was serious. Serious enough to go. A couple hours in I thought I was in the clear. Then the phone rang.
I remember what I was wearing. A black tank top, black blazer, black tights, black flat slip on shoes and a stretchy pink skirt. I had a gold owl necklace and my long red hair was in curls, parted down the middle.
What was unusual was the winter parka. My biggest and warmest, and needed this May 26th. I ran to my car, or tried. The weather made it hard. The wind. The gloom. Was it raining? And the slipping. Slipping all down a sidewalk the length of one long city block. Berries had fallen off the trees overhead and it was so slippery. I shuffled and slipped and surprisingly didn't fall the whole way to the parking garage.
I think the sun was out at times during my drive on the freeway. I kept talking to him, out loud even, telling him to hang on.
What I remember most is the sound of his breathing. Labored and loud and unlike anything I'd ever heard. I remember the circle of family around his bed. It was strong and safe and sacred unlike anything I'd ever felt. The wind was getting louder. The universe was howling and orchestrating for our story. It was crying for us. It was taking him.
"Seven Spanish Angels" was played over and over. I don't know if I will ever listen to that song again. When my family began to tell him to "Go to God" I don't know if it was the fact they were releasing him, or the thought of not knowing what was meant by talk of this God that bothered me more.
I slept, the wind screamed, and the circle around him was the eye of the storm. I've never felt so solid as in that space and so aware of the elements out of control around us. We would not budge.
I went home. I woke up in peace the morning of May 27th, in sunshine, the earth had stopped spinning wildly and it was silent. Purple pajama pants. A flannel shirt. My hair was still long, still in curls. I was on my way back. Back to the same, I was sure. But this time it was different. I would never go back to the same. What had been was no more, and just like that, it was over.
I'm stopping here for now, as I've exhausted this story for one year. One year today. I don't know what I expected to feel, what I should feel, or even how I feel. I am here, you are here, he is not. It feels like yesterday. It feels like this morning. Yet a lifetime passed me, taught me, broke me, and healed me in this year. The year of firsts.
The year of firsts is now complete.
Maybe that's all there is to say today.