Today, I followed your footsteps.
I walked through your house, which seemed pregnant with anticipation for your return. Your clothing waited for you, folded, clean. A sweater on top of the stack, pants poking out beneath. A bag of toiletries sat neatly on a chair, open, ready for you to use them. I smoothed your bedspread for a moment, inhaled lingering traces of your scent, wondered if you had left the curtains open. I flinched when I saw the toy gun on your desk. Here, a stack of things to mail. There, a partially finished electronic project.
Your writing was everywhere–your spirit wound through the house like a cat. Your photographs littered the floor, the table, your face replicated everywhere. Your eyes looked out at me, wistfully, perhaps, but not sadly. The planes of your face struck me, as they always do, with a powerful sense of geometry, grace, and perfection.
The fountain rang through the air merrily, and I wondered if you idly trailed your hand through it as you left, like I did. I wondered if you fought with the door for a moment to get it to close in the crisp early morning, darkness.
I drove down the road you drove down, sea grass bowing in the breeze. I went through the puddle you went through, splashing water droplets everywhere. I parked where you parked, and walked where you walked, through the sand, one foot in front of the other.
My feet seemed infinitesimal beside yours.
When the path opened out, to the sea, there you were, waiting.
I could see the traces of your art, and for a moment I followed them, to the logical centre. I sat next to you in the afternoon sun. I heard the ocean whispering in the background. For a moment I sat in silent contemplation with you, and then I stretched out in the sand, looking out to sea, like you did. The waves were mild with floating drifts of spume. The wind whipped my hair, and the sand. A sharp, faintly bitter scent filtered through to me, and I realized it was your blood. The sand was dark and clotted there.
The rain could not wash you away, and the sand could not cover you. A bumblebee buzzed over us, and I pushed him away. I smelled you, but it wasn’t you, and I smelled the salt and sand and grass and the ocean.
I felt at peace there, with you, for a moment. I was surprised to discover this powerful serenity, this state of contemplation, with you, and for a moment, lying there in the sand, I thought you brushed my shoulder in passing. It was a powerful place, but not an angry or sad one. It was thoughtful, like you were. It also felt strongly right to me, and for an instant everything seemed right with me, and you, and the world. It was a beautiful place that you died in.
When I walked away, after saying goodbye to you, I trailed feet through the grass and sand, along a path you didn’t take. But that’s well–that path wasn’t for you. When I returned to the car, my foot was stained, rusty red, with your blood.
You are loved, and I am glad that you are free. But part of you will always be in my heart, as well. Thank you.
Gone now, released one, past returning, freed one, suffer no more.