I wasn’t there when you died.
I tried, oh I tried to open the window wider that night. I tried to make enough room for your great big soul to bolt to the heavens, to open a gate for your unknown depths, for they surely existed. The nursing home windows were made for safety though, not sanctity, and the chink widened only inches. Not enough, not enough.
Still hands folded on your lap, your eyes followed my fingers as I wound embroidery threads; jewelled shards of colour.
You sat at the window and waited for the moon. You were still so long I thought you might be asleep, and then you grinned a bold grin and said we may have to make the moon some coffee.
You stood at the kitchen sink, cold steel, looking out and up at the city sliver of cold steel sky. The wind is from the west, you’d say. There are white horses in the fisherman’s garden.
Tears, fat and slow, slid silently down your cheeks in the afternoons. You let them fall. Not sad, you said, just tired. I didn’t believe you. Now tired tears slide down my own cheeks. A bit of you in me.
There were secrets and silences and tightened lips. There was hidden memory, there was kind pretending. There was willing it all to stop. There was always stillness.
I sat with you after you died, I sat there all night. I watched your chest rise and fall – or so it seemed. I remembered the way your eyes could light a room. I held your good hands and felt all the softness they’d shown us. Nearly hundred-year-old hands. I saw the secrets go with you. There was a butterfly at the window, waiting.
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Were you there the night I was at the play? Was it in my imagination that you floated above the stage, or were you really there?
You floated down the river that night, laughing and splashing; you went with the foamy wake of words. Your soul flew out that burst-open window at last, soaring into a late summer sky.