Someone tells me something smells so good , like someone always does and I imagine it’s a way of saying I’m home although this isn’t, and it can be the first time we’ve barely met or the last, and we won’t realize that until we haven’t had the chance to figure out how a good-bye might look. I could offer up the scarf you dropped for instance, and we’d both hold an end .
I watch you without really looking, stacking soup bowls the size of a cupped hand, a certain help yourself arrangement just on the border of let me do that depending on what your hands are doing I suppose. They might weigh heavy at the sides of heart so dark it casts shadows on the kitchen’s island, the rainbow of plattered fruit and veggies snuffed out and making it easy to see where a bit of doing for and giving and gifting would feel like lighting candles
. Or just as often they act like they know more than I possibly could, and they’ve got this, and are doing fine and are going to take some into the room even though we’ve already brought some back. Take some and spoon up and in the hope of the living and loving in case their dying one needs reminding of it , to do something that doesn’t taste of giving up.
There can be suggestions of fear and uncertainty and a lonely cracking heart making no secret of itself in hands that flutter a bit. That dance with my follow by nature ones. I take the lid off the crockpot and let you ladle. I get you a spoon , realize you already have one, and we both take a split unspeaking second to let so much just pass between us ; glimmers of what can be and should and is .
I take mine like proof, like evidence, and wonder after you , wonder if I’ll see you again and if you saw enough of what I hope I look like when I’m trying my best just to be here for you in your now. Your never going to get this day back now.
There are generations of family nibbling cheese and triangles of egg salad on whole wheat, egg salad with too much pepper but of course no one notices . I scrub potatoes at the sink and hear laughter from the sitting room and sobs from down the hall and the ice maker knocking out time passing even as we all seem suspended in it, sequestered by the part of life that is death.
I try to imagine what they will keep from all of this afterwards. One doesn’t collect souvenirs from visits and vigils at a hospice. There are few facts even. Mostly imprints and memories , echoes of polite greetings and comfort that become hymns of deliverance . All those places on arms and shoulders and the small of your back where slight brushes and grips and leaning into become embers.
I read that in the 18th century Potato Priests gave praise to this food source from their altars so the people of Norway would trust what seemed a devil’s fruit because it grew underground. I rinse dark from what will become the next portion of gospel . Hope doesn’t always look like we expect and can even be buried somewhere we’d rather not dig around in.