In the end she said there was more she had hoped to get done: pages to dog-ear, puddles to dive. If you’d ever held her hand, you’d know; nothing was impossible till she made it so.
Still, there are days that I wake up convinced I’ve seen her face in a passing crowd, crossing streets she’d never cross, in a neighborhood I never knew existed until long after she was gone.
The most convincing dreams are the least vivid. I wake up smelling like her, feeling the urge to suddenly take up yoga or longing to learn to like silent movies.
Some nights it’s the murmur of the potter’s wheel her father left her. She never put clay to it, never touched it with more than a single finger. But she sat behind it sometimes and peddled, filled the basement with its uneven clanking. She said it reminded her of a pulse she’d yet to find, and I said it reminded me of too many unspoken goodbyes. I resented its constant hum, its solitary presence. Now I wake up spinning.
If she were here now she’d be crouched in the corner reading. Not putting the finishing touches on anything.
When we talked about procrastination she always said it was an art form. Like dancing, she said, except you never have to wear the painful shoes. You can just sit there and hope someday the ballet comes to you.
But she knew better. And we both knew it.
I just always hoped I would be the one to go first. I was never bothered by much then, never haunted by hope. It wasn’t until she’d been gone a year that I stopped carefully avoiding puddles, made a conscious effort to crease every spine I could.
They say time heals all wounds, but I’m not sure who they are. I’m only certain they never held her hand, never heard the hearts she could beat into submission using only her left thumb, never saw her reflection in the poetry of strangers. They’ve probably never woken up next to a ghost, maybe never even been loved by one.
Originally published October 9, 2009