She’s in a coma, they said.
I rarely thought of her, the little old lady with a hole in her throat. Cancer had deprived her of her esophagus, her voice resembling the guttural sound effects that always amused me in movies. I saw her mostly when everyone was sad, crying, mourning, like a shadow haunting the already gloomy reunions that were funerals, but our relationship never evolved past that: hello, they’re gone, sigh.
Now she’s gone. I had promised myself this one I’d talk to more, get to know well, memorize her stories and immortalize on paper the way I didn’t her sister. I wanted to grasp one’s history, maybe to compensate for my past mistakes; we don’t care enough when it’s still time and then it’s too late. Life has a way of taking people away before we’ve molded a precise impression of their existence in our memory, before we truly understand their every breath should have mattered more.
She’s up there. Or maybe not. She was a feisty one I was told, dynamic and lively; hard to believe the tiny crumpled up human I had met was once the picture of health, some force to be reckoned with… and I’m sorry. I’m sorry I took my time as yours ran out. I’m sorry I cared too late. I’m sorry I don’t feel enough pain now you’re gone…and I’m sorry that doesn’t change a thing.
I always imagined the dead seated at a floating table just like the one in Mary Poppins, playing cards and laughing. They somehow all fit around it and it never seemed crowded; a place for everyone and a never-ending game…the way it should have been on Earth. Some Sinatra playing in the background, maybe even Sinatra himself – that’s if they allowed the little bastard in in the first place. This image of death appeals to me, a place where things happen the way they should have down here, peace and joy for all. I hope you’re at peace now little lady, dancing alongside Fred Astaire wondering how you suddenly understand English. I hope you feel young again, and that someday we’ll meet at that table, and finally… we’ll talk.