She gave fair warning.
“I’m done,” she’d said.
You knew her tales of woe,
could recite them too verbatim.
Still, you were seduced
by that humor, those grins,
sly and cutting, going right
at the heart and soul of the matter –
and maybe a little by that sneaky,
silent hankering you’d shared
a decade back when the two of you
weren’t free to go for it.
You’d asked her, for your own peace of mind,
just days ago. “No worry,” she’d said.
“I’ve been through worse.”
You took her at her word.
“A tough cookie,” you thought.
“Truer words…” Uglinesses going back
and back. A beloved father died young,
heartbreaking. Crazy mother married again, badly.
He broke his vows on her, too young to stop him.
Her kids mixed up and mad
when their divorced dad died
early by the side of the road,
taking it out on her.
Still, she’d kept showing up for the next round.
“A survivor,” you thought.
“We could all take a page from her book.”
Spring was underway.
“Let’s do something fun.”
“New Haven? They’re making music on the green.”
“…and there’s a funky show at the Yale Gallery.”
“We can do pizza at Pepe’s after.”
So you did. A few weird twists
in the conversation, think nothing of it,
just the new normal between you.
Back home. Lend her a book.
“How to Survive the Loss of a Love.”
Give her a hug. “I’m going to see you whole again,”
you say flatly. She grins and goes.
Morning comes. “Who will go with me?”
she posts on Facebook
about some trivial nothing happening.
That’s all she wrote.
It takes a while before you notice
that your gut’s onto something you’re not.
You call. No answer. And again.
A day gone, you sit with it in sangha
and know there’s another call
you have to make.
Maybe her rabbi. She trusts him
as much as anyone maybe, besides you.
It doesn’t take long. Phone rings.
Officer Hurley. “We checked. She’s gone.”
Done. End of story, almost.
More will be revealed.
You post obliquely on her page
“Where you’ve gone, none of us soon will follow.”
Begin again. You find out
what she didn’t. The love that filled her world
and the tear her going made all through the fabric of it.
It continues. There’s a house to empty and sell.
There’s the letter the officers overlooked,
and said there wasn’t,
the one you knew would be there somewhere.
The usual suspects have blown town.
A summer’s worth of weekends,
pull out, pack up, hand over, pitch,
put away all the usual and unusual
foolishness our lives are filled with.
“She’s up and gone, leaving us the mess,”
you think, not wanting to let in
where it hurts what you know remains.
Clear away, box up
the last things those eyes beheld.
Suck it up. Gotta be done.
Then it is done. It’s over.
Late August, Sunday afternoon.
Outside. Saying another sad goodbye
to the other heavy lifter, the new life friend
who came into yours when she left it;
you’d helped each other make it through.
No warning. Storm clouds let loose.
Torrents pouring down.
Turning to the car, you see it.
It stops you dead in your tracks.
“Did you see that?”
“Yes, you saw it too?”
She’s gone. She’s gone. She’s gone…
swirling up through the torrents
cascading down the mountainside.
The house now at last is bare and void.
Looking up, that room, where you knew
she took her leave, where you knew,
what you didn’t want to know,
she hadn’t left all while you were there,
suddenly is dull and plain.
Winsome, “we loved her out of there,”
you say. “She’s free.”
You know that grin and thrill.
She flies as only she could fly.
Three miles down, dry as a bone.
Years pass. The chills take you
whenever she comes up.
You always wondered.
Now you know.
There’s more. It’s true.
A hard way to come by the gift,
but take it, hold it, share it
and say thank you.
Fly on, girl, fly on.