In the summer that year I had a whole field of daisies. Daisies were always my favorite. They reminded me of innocence. My head would be clear and empty there and I could walk and let go of most of the memories, and fill my hands up with precious white flowers and hope instead. Yet those last words I remember you saying still echoed in my vacant heart.
"Love comes through our wounds."
You were my Preceptor then, and gave me Dylan, Yeats, and the oldest stories,
the poetry, the paintings, the prince of tides.
You taught me to love words, because words were all we had to give. So you gave me yours, and the new possibilities of language rang in my mind, in the voice of your poems
of harlequins, and maidens
and leather-clad heroes
riding the slipstream of the night.
I guess I learned even this from you... to bear things until I could write them, and write things until I could bear them. It makes sense that so much I write is about you. I could write a thousand pages from the days we had. About how in the beginning I corrected your southern mouth. You said I had a lot of pluck. I told you that you drank too much. You told me that you loved me.
And here we were like children, playing out our story through the characters we knew:
A star-crossed little girl, and a boy who wouldn't grow up;
stolen from our prams and bereft of a home, all for the silly sake of learning how to fly.
Whatever we were.... we were we.
In a world so precarious, that was all we knew.
“Love comes through our wounds.”
You said I might not understand what it meant yet. But I was up and smart and sensitive. You believed one day I would know.
You had lived your whole life with Carolina in your mind, unafraid of the sun in your marsh lands, by your islands on the coast. They say when most of us die our bodies will turn back into earth, but I always knew you would melt into water. Your eyes were a piece of the sea. But together at the end we were autumn trees, displaying our death in flagrant colors; hiding the truth we knew all along, that no part of us would last.
When the days became too much, and I would hold you while you cried because it hurt that everyone who loved you once had left. I always came to you, even when your hurt started to hurt me. You shook when you sobbed and I held you by my heart like a child. I cried too. Your hair had turned silver when you were a boy.
By then you were not the mentor, or the author, or the man. Life had caught you, with its rising and falling tide of memory. You grieved the loss of your father's love, and of your little brother who had died leaving you to never know why. You remembered that you died too in the kind of accidents little boys have with guns; but somehow, in a blur of morphine, hospitals, and healing you came back. Everyone had said that was because you were meant for some special purpose. You told me you had never figured out what it was. I said one day you would find it, because I didn't know what else to say. You smiled. And then you were gone.
I just wanted to say I know now.
Even though I can't find you to tell you, I see what I should have seen long ago. That all the while you must have known you were slipping away, and yet you let me fight. Even though we lost every battle, you told me there was hope so I would not forget there were things worth fighting for. Every time I cried for you made sure I would never forget how to feel love. And until now I have hated you for letting go, when that is the only thing that has caused me to know how precious it is to hold on.
I know now what you knew then, when you spoke those last words to me.
“Love comes through our wounds. “
It was the fighting to save you, that was saving me.