Angie died just over three years ago, on a hot summer day in June. Strange, she is as present to me right now in this moment as she ever has been, as if she is sitting just over me at the desk, her fingers guiding mine over the keyboard. I have missed her daily, have often-even three years later!-thought, "oh, I can't wait to tell Angie!" or have purchased an especially lovely purple-flowered paper with the intent of writing to her on it. In all this time, though, three years which seem both like a lifetime and a heartbeat, I have never felt this kind of manifestation; I am not sure whether to weep with sorrow or to laugh with carefree joy. She is here, I want to yell, and in the same breathe scream that she is gone.
There was a song on my playlist a little while ago that reminded me of her~I am sure she never listened to Tom Petty prior to befriending me, yet I hear "Learning to Fly" and it is gift she gave to me. In the top drawer of my desk, looking for something entirely different, I found a piece of that paper, the purple irises catching my eye and my heart. All of these small things, the details of my life that are not just mine, but hers by default. Even now, I can't think of the two of us as separate; her breath is mine, and mine hers, only one of us has stopped. Sometimes I think it might have been me.
And when asked, I will tell you that from her I learned that there are no guarantees; that you have to either live or just exist, but either way, life is going to go on, with or without you. That even in the midst of pain and uncertainty and fear, life is good. Every breath we take, every action for good, every small green leaf in the wind or the way a lover's hand looks on your thigh, every moment is something to be relished. I don't know right this second if I can make it through another day, yet in the same breath I can tell you I am equally sure that I don't want to miss what might be coming. For good or ill, I am in this thing called life, and I don't want to just exist; I want to live, to love, to find a way to live in the moment and not lose another little part of myself in sadness and fear and uncertainty. I want to walk outside in the clear, windy light of Autumn, to go home to the people that I love and know that what I have, in all of it's manifestations, is really, really quite beautiful. I want to touch Steve's face with my hands and tell him that I love him, to watch my daughter's sleeping face transform itself into sweet babyhood one more time, to remember the day when Eli first told me he loved me. I want to watch Sam when he thinks no one can see, marveling in the fluid grace of his hands, and mash my lips up against Owen's sweet fat cheeks in an effort to become part of him one more time. Oh, this life; so beautiful and sacred that sometimes I just can't bear it.
***The unrelated update is that my first ex-husband just called me a little while ago to let me know that his dad has had a stroke and is failing quickly. He (R.) has had just a ton of health problems over the last year, including heart/lung issues and cancer. K. (the ex) was in tears, just sobbing uncontrollably, and this is one more blessing in my life: that our relationship over the past 15 years has evolved to the point where he can call me and cry and I can cry with him. There is no love lost between my ex-MIL and myself, but my heart just breaks for the whole family, and I am so grateful that I can be in a place to be helpful and calm and reassure him that I will help him in any way I can. If you guys have a minute, send up a good thought or 6. For a peaceful passing for R., for his wife to have the strength to let him go, for clarity and love for all of them.***