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Last week my mama called with the news – an old friend was gone.  Certainly before his time (yet not). He was nine years younger than me – the same as my baby sister.  In fact, my very first job was babysitting him and his two younger brothers.  It was sudden, unexpected – his heart gave out during the course of a night.

He lived alone; slept alone; died alone.

It’s a formula that breaks my heart, and one sure to haunt his girls with what ifs and who could have known.

And yet – he wasn’t found in the hallway or the bathroom floor. He was on his side, as if the moment was first presented as a dream.

Such news moves us for surely we know the echoes of such emptiness. We grieve with the broken, and grieve for ourselves, as we are reminded (again) of the frailty of life, of the breath that stalls, cleaving us from this world, from every might have been.

It’s not the dying that scares us, but the running out of road. It’s not the trip we never took, or the book we didn’t write.  It’s the half dozen eggs in the fridge, yesterday’s mail on the counter, and laundry not yet dry. It is the heart that will wonder to words never spoke, our last time forever the last. It seems as tho the things of little weight in life – weigh the most in death. Faith gives us assurance of another sun, but it is an assurance unfamiliar to this life.

We breathe, and we shed unseen tears for a loss greater than our words. Days pass as memories soften, such that one day we are surprised anew by the passing of life into fall.

I’d swear
there was a time before
I memorized your kiss
wrote your name
in cursive
next to mine

waited one more
always –
of reason to recall
and traded me
a winter
for your touch

you claim
to know my stories
when nights
I find you there
walking all alone
on roads
I go

torn between
the now and then –
were distances
a light we burned
– another
shining bare

relearning –
the warmth that is
your soul
come again
to carry me
to home