What I Will Miss
When I die, I will miss the quilts my Grandmother made. She left behind so many quilts for us. From Washington DC to the West Coast, up and down the Mississippi River, little girls and middle women and old ladies and me are curling up like cats, stretching out our toes, under the quilts hand pieced, stitched together, and quilted by my Grandmother and her friends, from pieces of their dresses, baby clothes, front room curtains, husband’s shirts, lives.
When I die, I will miss how honey smells, like a hot, drowsy summer day lying on mossy grass sprinkled with purple and white bee flowers. Bumbly black and yellow bees collecting golden pollen in the sacs on their back legs until they droop and fly crazy with a list in the dripping sweet sunlight back to the fresh, quiet, green shady retreat of their mysterious homes which I never see, but honey smells like that.
I will miss the shade of blue the sky gets on a cold January afternoon at dusk, when the day is not quite gone but night has not yet arrived, like faded washed out indigo deepening for moments and when I forget to look suddenly dark. The way sunlight sparkles on frost in the morning makes me believe in magic and faeries. How puddles glaze over with cracked starburst patches is deeply mysterious. I will miss that magic.
I found a leaf, fallen months ago, a huge maple leaf with all the green leafness gone, wintered away, frozen out. What remained was a spidery filigree of leaf bones. What was not there was past, dead, done. But those delicate bones…this is hopeful. That the essence crumbles away to nothing but the quilts or the bones still define the part that lived.
My father died. His cigar I do not miss, but I do miss the belligerent persistence with which he smoked. I saw his spidery filigree of bones when the bugler played Taps, and a breeze suddenly arose from the still air, lofted the flag held above his empty casket by Marines in dress blues. The bones lifted the breeze that blew across my face, his last touch on my cheeks, and the faces of my sisters and daughters. The bones live in the old clock, the big blue Masonic Bible, in my sister’s bull headedness, my daughter’s quick intuition. But mostly the bones live in the breeze that stirs through the eddies of Puget Sound in Honeymoon Bay between Baby Island and Verlane’s oyster beds by Eleanor’s house, who lent us her boat to row out and dump the ashes of my father in his favorite place.
When I die, I will miss the wind singing through the tree tops and camping by a creek wide and deep and swift enough to wade up and float down until my body aches from the joy of wading up and floating down, turning brown in the sun, my body feeling aches and delights and the sweet sounds reminding me who I am.