For Don Rennicke
Oct. 15, 1930 – Dec. 11, 2015
It doesn’t seem right that the world continues to revolve when your own stops spinning.
Still you breathe. Exhales come weighted and costly. Each puff is precious, part of your body leaking into the universe.
Nothing makes sense. You see objects before you—black suitcase, litters of shirts and underwear and books tucked inside its zippered mouth. White lights rim the counter, soft glow against the glare of an unexpected gap.
And your head—words swim in the slow churn of your mind, haze and slide translucent into shadow. You search an answer to a question you asked minutes ago, repeat before you forget that too. You wind up in the closet, no idea how you got there. What did you need?
His smile lit the map of your world. To explore his laugh was to venture the roads and conduits of childhood.
The way his hands cradled clumps of earth, black under the nails, stained like ink. Low, hearty hum of voice, scratched by cigarettes. Perched in the corner chair of the kitchen table, white t-shirt bright against yellow lampshade, plastic purple cup brimmed with black coffee, how he was so slow to get up and move into the day.
Silence through speakers. No sound comforts you tonight. You don’t want the pulse, already thick and stuck with excess noise jostling your soul, shocked quiet.
An old, maroon bound book with gold letters of your and his favorite poet lands on top of packed Christmas presents. The beauty of words strung you together, the ethereal everyday. The love in your hearts sealed you into each other, the man who planted cherries in a bucket on your driveway, who held you in his arms and said the kindest things, inspired you to be better than you thought possible.
On the phone you laugh with your brother, proof that hearts must not hang so heavy. You both know it will never be the same.
Life moves on. He does not. How can you?
You head out in the morning. So close to making it home for Christmas. Just eight days before you already would have settled in for a long stretch at home. Do two weeks become three?
You cannot think past three minutes from now, chest hollow and scraped.
He saw you as athlete and best friend, writer and woman. You’d always brush your lips against his papered skin as you said goodbye, look into the mahogany of his eyes, clouded with darkness, still reflecting the mischief of boyhood innocence.
How is his wife, the beautiful pillar of support beside him for 62 years?
Do not look at the contact list in your phone where two names are typed as one.
She answers the line herself. Asks if you are feeling better. Late supper, early night. She held his hand as their pastor prayed. His heart ceased its job just after amen. The perfect way to go.
Eyes clear. Soul whole.
May we all be as blessed.