I can imagine catching him right before he turns the handle to leave out the back door. I see through the years the quick goodbye kisses before work, and the messy kitchen I am cleaning in a quiet house. I can hear music blasting from the car before Jay pulls out of the driveway headed to take the kids to school, and the stomping and slamming of angry goodbyes with anxious butterflies flying out of our mouth, and following us until we can’t stand it, and we apologize.
On this morning, I call out “wait, Babe.” and when I feel I catch his attention, I look up from the breakfast dishes I am washing in the sink but instead it is you who catches me. You are there at our door and in our sanctuary, in notes you leave, phones call and text messages. Many of you drive behind us to his graveside, and others follow us in your thoughts. We feel you are there and it makes every fall a little softer.
"You forgot to show me how to turn on the music" I say when I look up from the breakfast dishes and meet his eyes. He shows me how, and the four of us dance.
We hold our daugher and son until they are too big for our arms, and then we kneel down and grab their tiny hands until they are too tall, and then we dance with them at our side, and one day, our teenager rolls her eyes at us but dances anyway. I follow the beat of the music he loves. When the song is over, I look up to find it is you who is helping us keep the beat we lost.
It is a dreary December morning. It’s quiet and cold when the music stops, so we get back in the bed that he probably already made, and hide under the covers. In between us, we watch them sleep until we hear them cry, and then we argue over whose turn it is to go upstairs. And then we hear the pitter patter of little feet coming down, and we wake up in the morning to watch them sleep again until we finally enjoy the mornings we can sleep late with the sound of cartoons coming through the walls. In the blink of our glazed eyes, they outgrow Saturday morning TV and we wake up more often to a quiet house, and then it is us waking them, hoping to catch a glimpse of their sleeping faces.
Will you turn up the heat? I whisper to Jay before getting out of bed on this chillier than normal morning. I wait for him to get back in bed and as I look up from under the covers to the navy sky above, I see it is you who kindles the fire to keep our house warm with a flame so high, it lights our way in the night sky.
You caught our breath
You kept our beat
You lit a flame so high
We saw it in our navy sky
It does not matter so much what you said or did not say, what you did or did not do or from how close or far away. What matters is we have not felt alone. You have kept us company in so many ways. Never doubt the power of your good intentions. While they may feel small to you, they land somewhere even without postage and make a diffference. Thank you.
Neil Young, One Of These Days - Photo by Leila Grossman (my hair has knots because I was not planning on being in the photos!)