I was finishing work at Daniel’s garden on Tuesday when the phone rang. Seeing my sister’s name, I felt the familiar dread; this would be the call, and knew immediately from the sound of her voice that it was. Mom had collapsed in the bathroom, and was having great difficulty breathing. Hospice personnel arrived, took her to their facility. Do they call it a home? Should I fly to Denver as soon as possible? My sister couldn’t say. More would be known by the afternoon.
I got in the pickup and drove toward my next job. On the radio was a cello suite of bittersweet beauty, its melody so aligned to my emotion it seemed a gift of fate; a memory I would use as a landmark. Where I was when it happened. I resolved to pay attention and find out the title and composer.
But my mind was elsewhere when the announcer’s treacly voice revealed both. I did not mind, and do not mind. It was not a memory I wanted to bronze, those minutes passing under the tall pines and cypresses of Golden Gate Park, that melody. Truthfully, there are no memories I want to put on a shelf to collect astral dust.
No matter what we do, the dead will escape us. The laugh dissolves. The air rushes into the tunnel the body makes. There is nothing that can be done about it and nothing that ought to be done.
Besides, she is still alive. She’s eating a little, breathing better. I will be going to see her soon. I wonder if I brought some music, something like that cello suite, it would ease her through tough moments to come.