When I found out he had two weeks to live, I didn’t go see him. Not that I don’t know what to say; I’ve had training in dealing with bereavement and grief and death.
I should have gone. But one time I thought about it, I felt like I didn’t know him well enough to matter. Another time, I let the unorthodox family situation stop me; wasn’t sure who’d be there and how they’d be feeling or acting. Another time, I felt overwhelmed because though we weren’t close, I’d thought we would be; he was a good guy, smart, good conversationalist, sense of humor.
Talked myself into it. Excused myself out of it. Talked myself into it. Waited too long.
In the end I just waited too long to do the right thing.
They say heroes dash into burning buildings or flaming cars to rescue people without thinking. They act before they have a chance to get scared. My first impulse when I heard was, I have to go see him.
But I gave myself time to think, and I kept thinking until it was too late.
Found out this morning that a dear friend and spiritual mentor died yesterday.
We were supposed to get together for lunch soon. I keep thinking about what we would have chatted about, how much we laughed when we visited.
Death is not, as many claim, a natural part of life. Death is unnatural, an enemy.
This space is too small to hold everything I believe about life and death and love and loss. I’ll just say I’ll miss him, and hope all the rest of you are happy and well.
His habit was to pop out of bed the instant he awoke. Today it felt good to lie there, eyes closed, sun glowing through the window onto the bed.
“Know what I want to do today?”
The room was silent.
She’s still sleeping, he thought. Lazybones.
He rolled over to put his arms around her, knowing she’d open one eye, give him the grumpy face, then snuggle into his chest.
Her side of the bed was empty.
He opened his eyes.
Properly awake now, he threw himself down on her pillow.
His wounded animal cries made no difference. He’d done this every morning since he’d been able to sleep again, and it made no difference.
She was still dead.
As he scrambled through the underbrush the jagged tear in his leg soaked his boot and, worse, left a clear trail for the monster on his trail.
The same question circled his brain over and over: loop back and get behind the creature, or drive like a madman straight away from it?
His inability to decide stemmed from his unfamiliarity with the beast. Was it sentient, reasoning, a strategic foe, or simply a mad animal looking for a meal?
Pushing through the dense jungle since waking before dawn to the stench of the taloned thing behind him, he fought the mental fog brought on by lack of sleep. The animal had dogged his trail for a week, if his count of the days was right.
Precision wasn’t his strong suit.
Continue reading “Perpetual Prey”