Many questions I have had for the doctor have arisen in my mind over the course of the seven weeks since I have last seen him. But in the sequence of changes in Emma’s condition and the subsequent eroding winds of self-serving health care agents, vassals of castles in the sand, my questions have flown from my mind like dry leaves carried down a rushing stream. The one question remaining hangs on the limb on which I presently stand. Then the wind blows, the bough breaks, and we settle on the next situation, the next question.
When the last leaves had gone off the dogwood tree outside my upstairs studio window at the end of November, I had to look farther away for trees changing with the season. Sometimes as I’d walk past my upstairs window, I’d glimpse this big, brown shaggy thing a few doors down. It is a bald cypress, a deciduous conifer, and it is historic, at least 100 years old. It is very tall, rising above the roof of the three story Victorian house it shades, and lush with graceful branches and green needles in the summer. It houses a peaceful community of critters—squirrels, birds, and who knows whom else. When I walk beneath it, its fragrance intoxicates me and I hear a menagerie of twittering and chattering from deep inside its branches. So much busyness, so many lives, so many stories to tell. The first late November I saw the bald cypress turn brown, I thought, Oh, my God, it’s dying. The needles have all fallen off now; its branches are bald. But, thankfully, it is only resting.
Often I dwell in the gap between the wine red of compassion and the sapphire blue of surrender, the darkest, deepest region of love, as defined by Nobel-prize winning author Orhan Pamuk in his novel The Museum of Innocence.
When I write, I live inside my head; my imagination rises to the fore. Readers ask Orhan Pamuk if the story he writes in The Museum of Innocence is about him. It is fiction, he tells the questioners, yet part of him wants the reader to believe that the protagonist, Kemal, is indeed he. My sister, Kathleen Long, has written a new novel titled Chasing Rainbows. Currently it sits in Amazon’s top 100. The story is fiction. She writes about our father. I write about my mother. (We have different mothers.) Daddy died suddenly in 2004. As I write this, I wear his sweater.
Carl Sagan said nothing ever leaves the universe. My friends Jean and Thumper who own the historic Delaware Bay oyster schooner, the Maggie S. Myers, and work her nearly daily dredging on the bay, once took a deceased waterman’s ashes out onto the bay to be scattered. It was a windy day. As Jean scattered the ashes, they blew back into her face and hair. “He was closer to me in death than he ever was in life,” quipped Jean.
When I walked our late teacup poodle, Jetta, along sidewalks piled with dry leaves, sometimes one would blow up into her face—thack. She tolerated being led through these heaps of leaves, because she was with me and because she couldn’t get away; however, she seemed to indicate that it would be more sensible to walk elsewhere.
Caught up in a vortex, a large dry leaf circles back and blows in my face.
In 1973 I sit at my round oak table in Redondo Beach, California, one night listening to the distant sounds of the surf breaking on the shore, drinking wine and staring into the flame of my magic candle held in the neck of a small, dark wine bottle with thick, multi-colored wax drippings down its shoulders and flanks, set in the middle of the table. I feel melancholy.
The next morning I go to class and sit next to my friend, Robert M. We are taking notes, listening to the instructor. Robert draws something in his notebook and hands it over to me. It is a picture of a candle with a gloomy cloud above it. I am blown away. I wrote poems, typed them up and compiled them into a little book. Robert wants to see them. I lend him the book. He keeps it overnight. He returns it and says, “I read your poetry and fell in love with you.”
Robert is an artist; focused on spiritual evolution. He is living with a girl and I am living with a guy, but when we meet for class we are very close. He is concerned that if he marries this girl that she won’t be able to evolve with him. I sense a big change coming. That August, my uncle, my father’s brother and a second father to me, is diagnosed with colon cancer. He is 61. Too young: he is too young to die; I am too young to lose my uncle. I am devastated. Robert sits beside me day after day and tells me it is my uncle’s time to go: “Let go, let go,” he says. “You must give him clear passage so he can go into the light unobstructed. Let him go in love,” Robert says. I did, but I couldn’t have done it without Robert’s uplifting support and guidance. My uncle passed on; it was December 5 that year, the same date I put our teacup poodle Jetta to sleep this year.
Robert gave me a turquoise ring. It is Navajo, turquoise and silver. The turquoise stone signifies friendship. I wear the ring to this day. I have never taken it off. It won’t come off. Soon after our classes ended and my uncle died, I moved away. I’ve never seen Robert again. His words helped me with the passing of my father and they help me now as I watch Emma lying in her hospital bed, separating from those of us staying on.
–Samantha Mozart, January 12, 2012