Cold wet rainy. A lot like September 2009.
The skies cry. Winds howl.
Two days passed and grief snuck up Buffalo Hill through the Shindagin Hollow Forest. Like the mushrooms and vibrant fungi I see on my walks in the woods, grief manifests itself only under certain circumstances, but the spores stay right under the surface of the soil. When the days are sunny and dry it looks like they’ve disappeared from the woods, but they are simply dormant. When it’s the rainy season, fungi pop up between dark and dawn. When it’s mourning time, sacrificial offerings spring from the heart.
Looking up from my desk, I see outside lush green leaves of the maples and elms standing in the yard against the forest’s edge. The air is still and the drizzling has stopped. A branch on the sweet maple tree waves. I watch the tree greet me. I take it in as if it were as customary as my dogs wagging their tails while lying still next to my feet. A calm and fleeting moment. I breathe and see wet green.
No breeze. I look out the windows on the east wall and notice no wind at all. When I look back at the maple, it’s still waving at me. I stand up and walk outside to greet the spirit of tree.
The dogs accompany me toward the backyard and take off down the lane into the woods without stopping or noticing the waving arm. As I approach the maple, I raise my hand to see if I detect a breeze or feel the wind. Tree waves back. By what magic?
The trunk felt solid. The girth of it did not vibrate or offer any explanation for its leaf fingers waving at me. I looked up and put my hand under the moving branch to see if I could detect an updraft. Nothing. Houdini had me playing his nimble assistant in performing a magic show. Except there was no stage, but the one on which I walk in my interior life with Sam’s ghost.
Over my head flew a crow and it called to me. I followed the bird in flight with my lips, pursed into a frown. When I turned to follow the dogs into the darkness of the tall pines, every leaf on the maple tree stood still. And I shook.
Don’t leave me. I can’t say good-bye. I love you always. Come back, Sam. Come back to me.
It’s Friday the 13th and Sunday marks four years since Sam decided to take his own life. Tuesday, September 15, 2009. There isn’t a Tuesday that goes by that I don’t dread the dinner hour. The middle of every month my belly button bleeds. When I hear a gun blast, every muscle in my body tenses. Sirens send a chill up my spine. My mind can control most of the physiological responses before the panting begins and tears obscure my vision. I’ve learned to pull back from a full blown meltdown; at least in public. But my heart and body still know my sorrow.
It’s been so long that no one mentions Sam anymore. As though our life together is separate from my life alone. I know people don’t raise the subject because they assume it will bring up painful memories. For me or for them, I wonder. I live with all of these memories day and night, awake and asleep. I can’t forget. I can’t forget the night he died. I can’t forget the good times that came before. And I can’t forget the joy I felt being loved by Sam Warren.
Tree waves hello. Or goodbye? The crow returns. Tears drip from the rumbling heavens. Memories reverberate in the thunder of another storm. Toadstools and moss will carpet tomorrow’s forest floor.