Another night descends, a soul’s dark night, the loss of you like a hole in the fabric of my spirit: perhaps God cut it out to make you a shroud. The stars become you, but not so much as sweet-grass and sage; the heavens surround you, but not so deeply as human arms once did. I listen to a song you always played, so loud and sweet, blaring from your truck’s speakers – so proud, oh so proud to be what and who you were. And me, right there, proud to be sitting next to the seraph that was you.
Yes, there is a heartbeat, and yours will never stop so long as this world spins, topsy-turvy on its orbit, ‘round and ‘round the life-giving sun. It gives life back to you so that, when your ashes are finally free, the flowers will clutch onto them as food for their blossoms. You will never cease to beautify the earth. And you, memories and dreams of you, will never cease to bring me a smile: soft, small, sad. Missing you.
Everything reminds me of you; death reminds me of you and I struggle to make my peace. Those deep and wailing chants remind me of your soul that I now understand. Through my rambles, everyone sees you as a medicine man, a holy man, a sacred man. A man who wailed with the wind and whose footsteps beat like drums. A man who never said wrong. But you were oh so human, and there were all those other things: the midnight card games, hours into dawn laughing, inside jokes and made-up games: what kind of vegetable were you? A green bean, you said, too thin and too tall. There was the humor; there was that smile and laugh, that very inelegant laugh a child might giggle at.
And there were the hospital days; there were too many of those, too many tubes in too many veins; too much suffering for one man. A new liver and visions of Christ – you had those. You saw Sylvester Stalone under your bed and you boxed with him, post-transplant mind-set both tragic and amusing as you boxed with an invisible movie star … and as you touched the wounds of Christ; he lay your hands in them. He called you Doubting Thomas, but then you had every reason to doubt. There was The Incident and you were given a private room. Caused too much trouble, the nurses said. Yes, that was you, all of you, and I miss you. Oh, Tom, too many doctors and too many tears; now too many left over tobacco pouches from your memorial. I made them from my own clothes; tore my closet apart to cut out little squares – the very, very least I could do and somehow it felt like healing.
How I prayed and how I hoped, how hard I held your hand in the days before your passing. How I cried and beat the ground at six a.m. when the phone call came. No one is ever prepared for news like that. Not you. Not now. Not my survivor, my friend. Not you. I’ll never forget how, when you couldn’t speak and we weren’t sure you could understand … I held your hand, asked you to press it if you wanted us to stay at your bedside. I didn’t know if you could hear me, a bit of Doubting Thomas in me, but you clenched my hand desperately. And then I Knew.
Now you are in the arms of the Great Spirit, where someday we all will be: and free.
Tom told everyone I was his spirit daughter. He was going to walk me down the aisle. He was filled with both tears and laughter, and somehow I thought he’d live forever. Who ever does? Tom was an Aztec and a true warrior; he was truly a treasure beyond anything that could be wished for.
January 7th, 2010, six a.m. … the Great Spirit had different plans than I did.
I wrote this as a ramble, listening to one of Tom’s favorite CDs. “sacrificing tomorrow for yesterday … there’s a heartbeat loud as thunder, revolution is in the air. Are you too cool to care?”
Honored to be Featured in Bits and Pieces, October, 2010