A Letter to the Man I Loved the Most

Today is your birthday, June 6.  I cannot wish you Happy Birthday because you fell into a coma a year and 1/2 ago and died several months later.  Our daughter came over and over to see you, unconscious, eyes staring into empty space.  She drove the five hours back and forth repeatedly.  Sometimes I came with her.

What happened to you?  Your mahogany hands and arms looked as they did when I first met you decades ago.  I looked at the signs of aging on my own; yours seemed so young, ageless.  But not your face.  I wonder if I would have recognized you on the street.  I remember the first time I saw you, sitting on a sofa–fancy, engraved silver tipped cowboy boots, shirt open half way down your chest, and your smile radiating across the room.  I knew immediately I had to have you.

What happened to you?  How could I have guessed I could be so wrong, decades of believing you just left, no explanation, nothing.  Then after you are comatose and I cannot talk to you, I learn a far different truth, a truth that never leaves me, a truth from which I will never totally recover.

What happened to you?  Charming, laughing, the man so many loved.  That you.  Did the other you finally dominate–the sad, disappointed, angry you?  The you few knew, the hidden you, the one I often held, tried to protect. Now I talk to your cousin, the one you forbade to tell me the truth I never knew, the friend I thought I had lost forever.  Yesterday we talked.  Today she left me a message.  She and I will never be the same, she filled with irreparable loss, your company, your mutual love, and I with a hole in my heart that can never be filled because I cannot talk to you.

What happened to you?  A decade ago when you came to see our daughter, it was like I had seen you only yesterday, in so many ways as if we had never been apart.  It haunted me.  You could have told me then, the truth.  But no, I had to learn it by accident from our daughter.  She thought I knew, that you had told me.

What happened to you?  I look at photos of us, young, filled with hope and love and promise, smiling brightly toward a camera.  I wonder how different my life might have been.  I will never know.




I Watched Movers Box Up a Life

Saturday, February 18, 2017

I watched movers box up a life today, a life I thought left me thirty some years ago.  I was wrong.

When our daughter and I cleaned out the refrigerator, we found a large pot filled with egusi stew, remnants of the last meal he cooked. I took the footlong, hand carved, wooden spoon, scraped the dry bits clinging to the sides of the silver pot.  Scrubbing it clean, smells of memory flooded my nostrils–cayenne, bitter leaves. It took me ten minutes, ten memory laden minutes.  Even after scrubbed and dried, the pot’s cayenne smell filled my nostrils, the distinct smell of West African food.

I watched movers box up a life today, a life I thought left me thirty some years ago.  I was wrong.

Our daughter and I found papers and photos, items her father kept all these years, detailed memories of our life together.  I could barely look at them, throat constricting, tears welling in the eyes of this woman who never cries.  Our daughter, dismayed, told me to go outside.  I walked down the quiet street, brown leaves scattered from autumn, unraked, a strange street both urban and rural inside a city of nearly half a million residents.  Is this where he walked, attempting to improve his health?  Was I walking in his footsteps?

I watched movers box up a life today, a life I thought left me thirty some years ago.  I was wrong.

Horses in Heaven

Heaven for horses seems a bit far fetched, especially for someone who lacks certainty about heaven  even for people.  Nevertheless, it remains a comforting concept.  Yesterday, I buried Starry Miracle, less than two, an orphan I bottle fed every 3-4 hours day and night when his  mother, Miracle, died.  He not only survived, he thrived.

Around 4:30 Wednesday, friends went to my place to ride Rosie, a chunky, red roan mare.  They found Star dead.  It appeared he had been playing, jumping, and rearing, and freakily caught his ankle in a space between the pipe gate and fence, broke it and ruptured his femoral artery, then bled to death.  When they called to tell me, disbelief set in.  As a horse owner for many years, I know the common causes of horse deaths, colic mainly, from which Miracle died three days after his birth.  I have inspected fences and corrals for safety many times.  The possibility of such an accident never even entered my mind.

His body stiff, distorted,  his coat, lusterless, bore no resemblance to his burnished copper body, glinting in the sun, following me, nipping if I ignored him.  Often, I thought he thought I was a horse or he a human.

The two surviving horses spent hours standing in the spot where he died, licking the pipe fence from which I had hosed off his blood, smelling the ground, neighing.  They even failed to rush to their hay when I fed them.  Eventually, I opened their gates.  They ran across the rugged canyon land constantly for fifteen minutes, dream horses running in the wind.



Miracle, Star’s mother, deceased, July 2010.  Rosie who “adopted” Star after Miracle died, and Cool, the other orphaned horse I raised.

Miracle and Star as a newbornRosie, who "adopted" Star after Miracle died.