The memory of that space, those hours, the lamplight…
They live in a quiet room with closed doors. So quiet I think around it most days. My brain has built so many alternate paths I don’t consciously realize I haven’t gone into this one room for days, months even. But in the way of the mysterious mind, a curve in conversation leads me to its door. I press my hand against the smooth wood, let my palm slowly slide down and mold my fingers around the cool handle. I grip and turn. Softly it opens. I see the yellow light. It reaches from the narrow crack I have let open. It invites me in. So I slip inside.
The yellowness is almost golden, maybe even a little bit brown. It effervesces from a little lamp standing bravely on a nightstand. A gift, letting us see gently, no bright exposure of the unbearable sharpness undeniably there. Carpet holds our footprints, writing a circle around him. Bodies gathered in desperate hand-holding, the only way we can ask to be held while having an open palm to cradle the matching brokenness.
I am stranger and close friend to this memory. I shouldn’t be there. But it’s the only place I could ever be. I shouldn’t stay long, but I don’t ever want to leave. I watch from a corner.
Time taps me from behind to offer me a blanket, seeing that I might be cold. Without turning, I nod slightly and she unfolds the blanket letting it rest kindly across my shoulders. I reach to pull it tighter, and let myself see the memory unfold before me.
He’s the center of the room. In this room, he is still alive. I see him and my heart remembers a rhythm it had since quietly forgotten.
I watch how our hands reach to hold the life that’s still within him – touching a bare shinbone, sock covered toes… rubbing palms across fever-warmed skin, his patchy haired head… interlacing our own grip into his tightly fisted fingers.
Together we feel the life inside him. And together we feel it gently lift from his body. As it rises, like wind it whispers across our closed eyes. Tears collect along our eyelashes and drop onto our cheeks from the gentle force breeze. Softly, it feeds deep into of our lungs as we breathe in sharp inhales of grief. But in our exhales, we release it back into the atmosphere. And it lifts.
From the corner time has graciously let me trespass to, I see it. See it more clearly than I had before. I see it lift, rising past a height our hands cannot reach. A vapor not disappearing, but sweetly slipping away.
This moment is holy. It is a sacred prayer.
I am still from my corner as I feel all become silent. I dare not even sip on the quiet air.
But then the stillness softly starts to fold. Time reminds me with a kind nod that I am now a guest here. I let the blanket fall from my shoulders and I gather it up loosely to give it back to her. She receives it with one hand and then puts her other on my shoulder. Its pressure is a kindness. With it she tells me I am welcome, but this place is not meant to be my home anymore.
I let me eyes take in the golden brown light for a few seconds longer, then I turn to leave. My hand lingers on the cool doorknob, and then I pull it shut behind me.