Monday, March 29, 2004

Twelve Years Ago

I touched the cold white skin of her shoulder, made dry and papery by months of chemotherapy, and quietly said "goodbye, Zenetta."

Even the most ordinary bedroom, my mother-in-law's sewing room latterly turned into a sickroom, still piled up with uncut, unsewn patterns and fashion magazines, gains a small solemnity from death.

Such a fragile little object on the bed, quite still.

I got the phone call at home. My six-year old daughter didn't believe me at first when I told her Grandma was dead. Then she burst into hot tears and fiercely pounded on me with her fists, furious at me for saying such a thing.

We drove over to Grandma's under one of those infinitely nuanced gray skies. Western Oregon specializes in them: pleats of pearly white and slate gray, bubbling wells of silver and scudding drifts of tarnish, layers of gun-metal and blue steel, froths of yellow-gray in the lighter pools where you might guess the sun lay. A quiet, covering, seeling sky.

All the many deaths of my life ran together in that sky. I would like to say goodbye myself under a sky like that, a sky of infiinite permutations.

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