A shock like thunder and thick silence of a still heart
Perspective shifts and what we reached for yesterday has this morning lost all meaning
Our white fisted grip holding tight to urgent matters loosens and spills slips square letter tiles between the fingers
What ever it was that meant so much tore so hard ripped apart is now forgotten
Life breathes through us in the falling leaves and rolling waves
Through the stillness of a silenced heart.
This past July, a few days after her 57th birthday, my sister suffered a heart attack and died. She was diabetic and had pseudotumor cerebri, a condition that placed pressure on her optic nerve. She was legally blind. Maggie lived alone with her beloved dog in a small apartment on the east coast. She was a strong, independent and cantankerous woman who did not have time for individuals who held opinions different to her own. Married and divorced three times and estranged from her mother and sister (I last spoke to her in 2007), Margaret died alone. She left a note on her refrigerator that said, “If anything happens to me leave my body to science.” Her dog was re-homed. There was no funeral or memorial service.
When I arrived at her apartment I was stunned to discover a life packed away in cardboard boxes. A box of old bedroom slippers. A box of wigs. A box of Beanie Babies kept for too long. I found lists of men’s names in her beautiful Palmer penmanship. Clothes wrapped in disintegrating black bags that I remember from high school. Earrings that I longed for when I was twelve.
There is one framed photograph thrown in the back of the closet. A photograph of my mother, my sister and me the last time we were together at Christmas in 1980. We’re in my mom’s trailer, the same one she lives in now. And I’ve set the timer on my old Pentax. Mom’s sitting down, her hair still dyed brassy red. My sister stands behind her in fake fur with a freshly lit Virginia Slims in her right hand. I’m in jeans, baggy sweater and big glasses that make me look like Velma from Scooby Doo.
I have a copy of that same photograph in my family album.