Day 131 – For Doreen

I forgot to put on sunscreen for the funeral. I didn’t even change out my sneakers for the heels I had packed the night before, so worried about being respectful. I thought those things would matter but death has a way of mocking the little formalities we observe. The dead don’t care what you’re wearing.

But you would’ve reminded me about the sunscreen. The two of us, forever indoors and longing for the beach, our weekends filled with texting screenshots of art projects and Amazon purchases, were so looking forward to the summer we’ve earned. You took your vitamins and your Claritin and paid extra for the UV protection in your sunglasses. I skid in daily on four hours of sleep and haven’t eaten a real vegetable in weeks. Something in the great cosmic milieu tells me there’s something unfair in you being the one who had to go, and me being the one who got to stay. I can’t even remember to put on sunscreen.

Your funeral was filled with the sort of people who would not, and did not, care if I showed up in sneakers. They did not mind that I obviously have the self-preservation instincts of a small child, as evidenced by my beet-red arrival to the memorial. They didn’t judge because you didn’t judge.

You were so well-loved by everyone. It took me by surprise how much I had come to love you, not because of who you are but because of who I am. It may be self-centered to think about it, but I’m not sure I could scrounge up more than a handful of people if my funeral was tomorrow. I burn too many bridges. But you never did; even those who managed to offend you were treated with your signature grace. You left this world with no enemies, and you left it far better than you found it.

So perhaps, in the great cosmic milieu, there’s something fair after all about you being the one who earned that endless summer vacation, and me being the one who has to keep struggling on without you. Where you are you don’t need sunscreen; I’ll try to remember mine from now on.

Advertisements

Day 87 – Two Sweaters

I remember the same two sweaters-
one plum and the other maroon-
that had to last the whole winter
and how it bothered me
that my old Lion King sneakers didn’t match
and how it bothered me
to think everyone would notice.

I remember being so pleased
at being allowed to invite over a classmate
and taking her to my closet
to show her my outfits
and knowing those two purple sweaters I hated
were the best I had to show.

I remember the girl who came over;
her sneakers didn’t match, either.
I don’t know where she is
but I have so many sweaters now.

Love In My Sneakers

I didn’t know then that I was California-bound
except the fibers on the back of my neck
knew something was wrong
with where I was

and love didn’t make me stay.

I was levitating in the rabbit hole,
pleading for someone to choose for me
because everything I wanted
wasn’t enough;

it was love in my hands
but it was also love
in my sneakers.

And it let me go
just like I watched you go,
tired of holding my feet
to the floor.

I had love still dripping from my shoelaces,
dragged wet traces across the whole country.
I stained every sidewalk I found
with the love that I left.

But I was California-bound,
I was always heading here,
and the love that I couldn’t keep
steered me on.