Tomorrow, it will be one year since the day you called me and said, “There is nothing more that they can do. I’m coming home, and I’m going to die.”
Home. I spent so much time running away from it, trying to tear myself free of these roots, vowing to only return when it had changed, that I didn’t realize that everything I loved about it was gradually fading into history. And now you, my anchor to this place, are the one who has left it for good.
But there are pieces of you here, fragments that, in the depths of my grief, carry me to the surface again.
The baseball diamonds you took me to, most memorably on the day you “kidnapped” me from the front porch and took me with you to watch the games. (You forgot to tell Mom, and she was going to kill you, but I was oblivious and just enjoyed hanging out with you.) Strawberry, where I used to ride out with you and Grandpa in your trucks to deliver oil, and you’d buy me “diamond” rings–the candy kind. The pool hall where you’d teach me how to cheat in cards and sit me up at the bar with an orange soda. The hay fields where I learned to drive. The mountains of this valley where, on the deer hunt, you’d reenact the Wild West.
A life I miss.
You truly belonged to what this place was before; you were part of a culture that is, in some ways, a thing of the past. And now, I want to do everything I can to keep you, your essence, alive in me. So let me shoot your guns. Let me farm the hay fields that were your life’s passion. Let me continue to carry your name that designates me as part of you, part of this. Part of place.
A place I never fit in, but the only place I belong. I couldn’t say goodbye to it again, because it would be like saying goodbye to you all over.
That last phone call from the drive home from that hospital on the hill began one of the longest months of my life, but it could never have been long enough. It could have–should have–gone on forever. Because how could anything take you away? Make you die? Like Lily said to me just the other day, you “were life.” And this place is where you lived it.
You came home to die; I returned home to live. Here, we’re still together.