We have no words of welcome for you here.
Did you take a wrong turn, forget the address?
What purpose in taking this woman, this mother, this wife?
What twist of fate have you tapped into?
Why slip in to take this life without a whisper?
We’re left to make sense of your choices.
To find purpose in a life without.
To recreate faith and hope.
That’s what humans do
after you leave.
And so we begin again.
Finding our way into a new year,
looking for tracks left behind from the last.
These first days feel unshaped,
vague, ghost-like, without definition.
As if they, too, are undecided where they’re going.
The silence of centuries
settles in amid these giant redwoods.
Nothing to say to us,
their limbs whisper high overhead.
And, later, when we yell
a friend’s name who has wandered,
our voices feel choked off
by these solitary sentinels of the earth.
Why should they speak to us?
Such weak creatures without roots.
My mother, Irene Fischer Meylor, poses for my father on their honeymoon in 1949. She had turned 19 just a month earlier. I found this curled negative in my Dad’s files, and had it printed.
Dad said some days were better than others.
On those days he’d see Mom walk
into the bedroom with his folded clothes
or pass by the living room with a dust cloth.
He’d smell bread baking
or coffee brewing in the kitchen.
Just a glimpse or a whiff.
Just enough, he said.
Once, he said, when he drove uptown
for the mail, he fell asleep, slumped
behind the wheel in a parking lot.
He woke to rapping on his window.
“Jerry, wake up. You’re late. It’s time!”
She looked right at him, he said.
And then she was gone.
At Dad’s funeral, my brother tells us his dream.
He’s sitting in a bar with Dad having a drink.
And Mom walks in. She tells Dad to get home.
And he follows her out the door.
That’s it. That’s the dream, Ken says.
On better days,
I can still hear Dad singing.
It’s just enough.
The longer she kept walking forward, the less often she looked back.
The less often she wanted to turn around.
The less often she waited to see if anyone was coming up behind her.
She liked the sound her sneakers made on the gravel roadway.
She could hear a creek running far below.
She could see the morning steam rising off the hillside.
She knew wherever the road led would be fine.
Because she’d never been there before.