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"EMPIRE OF LIGHT"
by Patty Paul

I’m suspended in a teardrop.

 

Getting damp, don’t know if it’s weeping or my soul seeping out the edges of my eyes.  Like the darkness and comfort of the womb - I hear sound and sense movement with sight blurred/dim.   Morning is here, sun sparkling, fluffy white clouds, trees and flowers reach to heaven.  Thud! a newspaper tossed onto the driveway.  Car alarm goes off in the street.  Birds call mates. Wind chimes sing out their songs.  Outside the window life goes on.  People wake up, eat, go to school, to work, kiss, pet the dog, do lunch, make plans, dinner, mow the lawn, sleep.  What you see is the surface, no depth.  I watch, I observe in silence.  You are nothing as long as you are quiet.

 

Inside frozen in time. A stark contrast.  Inside a haze, dark.  Funeral over, a life eulogized, poignant memories, messages of sympathy, visits.  Alone living a life interrupted.  54 a widow.  30 years of BLISS.  So blessed – we were living the dream.  Most people never have what we shared.  We each had what the other needed.  He challenged me, he gave me clarity and truth, he opened my heart/mind to a bigger, fuller life.

 

Inside a slide show running on my eyelids narrated by his voice.  Our first date, our first kiss and then we fell in love.  The warmth in his hazel eyes, now closed forever.  His joy for others, his empathy, his depth, his wisdom forever lost in the ether.  His smile, his sardonic use of comedy, his pain, his passion forever locked in my heart.   A million pictures of him – thin, stocky, stockier, a cuddly teddy bear – hiking in Yosemite Valley, a jeep ride over the red hills in Sedona, walking in the mall, dancing and singing on stage, walking behind a funeral in County Cork, Ireland, playing with the dogs, cooking breakfast in the kitchen.

 

Inside his stuff, his favorite things still lying around the house.. as if waiting for his return....  You want to clear some of it off, put it away, but you don’t.

 

Inside my life a volcano erupted,  a blip on the screen for the world outside.  Recent conversation with friends, no mention of his name.  Do they think of him ever, was he just passing through their lives?  Do they think speaking of him will make me sad?  Go ahead, make me sad.  I love hearing stories of him, knowing that he lives in the hearts of others.

 

I’m not ready to hear more of “He’s in A Better Place.”  Really, no, it’s better here with me.  He wasn’t ready to leave. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye.  Near the end he told me he was glad he was going first.  He believed I would be better able to survive him.

 

Christmas morning about 6 am he was breathing, warm, not responsive, but listening.  There were huge purplish ‘bruises’ on his lower back.  I knew it was his organs shutting down, the liquids pooling at the lowest point.  He was holding on for me, exhausted from the 20 month battle with cancer.  I gave him permission to let go.  I used the same words I had seen him use twice before with his grandmother and later his mother.   He was gone in 30 seconds.  And I remain suspended in a teardrop.

 

Editor’s Note:

 

Born in Southern California, Ms. Paul worked for 27 years as an administrator in LA County Health Services/Hospitals. She has a BA in Sociology/Psychology and a Masters Degree in Health/Hospital Administration(MHA) from the University of La Verne.

 

She began writing following the death of her husband. Many of her articles/poems about loss and love have been published in Canceronline.org, an informational website for cancer patients, survivors and caregivers. She was the organization's Chairman of the Board. She is a contributing writer for GlendaleArts.org.

 

She is a theatre devotee and has served on the Boards of two musical theatre  companies.  She has produced six staged concert readings of musicals.


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