Close Yet Ready
When strength fades away
When death grows close
Close spaces become hazards
Close off paths of travel
Travel through the new terrain
Travel through the final days
Days spent in reconsidering
Days spent in rearranging
Rearranging the furniture
Rearranging our priorities
Priorities must be reconsidered
Priorities shift as life ebbs
Ebbs into weeks then days
Ebbs until only hours remain
Remain together as long as we can
Remain connected still sharing our bed
Bed where so many conversations wandered
Bed where a son and daughter were created
Created a family that spilled ever outward
Created a life here with that bed as the center
Center ourselves in the love we’ve nurtured
Center ourselves for the death that’s approaching
Approaching fast although unwanted
Approaching to change everything we’ve known
Known each other’s breaths and heatbeats
Known deep love in all its many shadings
Shadings of sorrow edging each moment
Shadings of after as I rearranged the now
Now each change carries a message
Now I am always so painfully aware
Aware that these changes come with a message
Aware that we are crossing a threshold
Threshold between married and widowed
Threshold between what was and will be
Be with me always don’t die don’t leave me
Be healthy and strong and so filled with laughter
Laughter the music that always sustained us
Laughter lingers but now tinged with pain
Pain as his body is consumed by cancer
Pain as my soul faces a life lived alone
Alone in this room we’ve shared for so long
Alone in this bed he made with his own hands
Hands that shake now once caressed me
Hands grown feeble cradled our children
Children grown strong and healthy and happy
Children losing something I can never replace
Replace furniture and make spaces ready
Replace future vision with reality of now
So, I’m back to being a day late with this post, but for reasons that relate directly to the topic of this poem.
On Tuesday, I participated in my second-ever Meet the Author event for my recently-published, Pushcart Prize nominated story, “Being Colette,” which was published by local small press 518 Publishing in the Dark and Bitter anthology. This is something I’d never done before Jim died, but he always said he wished I could earn money from my writing, and this is a start…
On my way to the event, I passed an animal shelter. I’ve been thinking that I need a dog to help fill the large empty place in my bed, and give me a companion to ease the pain of grieving as I expend energy in caring for someone who could use some TLC.
So, on my way home, I stopped and inquired about pit bulls or pittie mixes who might get along with cats and other dogs. Pit bulls get an undeserved bad rap – they are sweet dogs and so good with kids they used to be known as “the nanny dog.” Shelters are full of pitties looking for homes, but they’re harder to adopt than some other breeds. But our late dog, Corki, was a pittie mix, and he sold us all on the breed.
Within minutes, I was getting big sloppy kisses from a young pitty named Nadine, who had been found as a stray.
On a separate but now related note, I bought a new bed. I needed to stop sleeping in the bed Jim and I shared – the massive raw wood bed he built with his bare hands, and which he died in.
Part of recreating my life is letting go of the anchor of that bed. Eventually, we plan to make it a small raised bed greenhouse, so it can remain a part of our lives… but, for now, I have a wrought iron sleigh bed that is almost the opposite of the bed we once shared. It’s a concrete reminder that I am in a new phase of life.
So yesterday, Jeremiah and I dismantled my marriage bed, and assembled the new one I will share not with a husband, but with the dog I’ve renamed Magnolia – Noli for short. And today, while she’s being spayed in preparation for coming home, I’m catching up on what didn’t get done yesterday, and preparing my room for her occupancy and recovery.
And life goes on…..
tomorrow (OK, later today), when we’ll explore Quagmires and Questions.