…courted me for years.
…first knocked on my door when I became paralyzed. It was an accident, the paralysis. I was five years old. My brother and I had been pushing each other all day, but the game ended abruptly. The push sent me flailing off the porch backward. I struggled futilely. My arms frantically trying to grasp something to stop the fall, coming back with nothing but air.
…stood at the foot of my bed and waited patiently for me to give up, to give out.
…tapped his foot in time with the second hand on the clock in my room. If you listened, you could hear. No! That wasn’t the clock; not really. It was Death tapping his shoe on the floor. Hear it? tick, tick, tick, tick…
…and I communicated on a different level than I communicated with other people. I was often confused as to whether this level was higher or lower. Maybe it was neither. Rather it was simply other-worldly.
…was quite frightening to me when I was younger. When I used to question “Why Me?” On nights when I would cry out to him to go ahead and get it over with, he would tell me calmly, eerily, quietly that I was not ready yet. I think he meant he was not ready yet.
…made it quite clear that he was patient enough to wait. And wait. And wait.
…made me wait. And wait. And wait.
…and I had some rather interesting conversations as I was growing up, wheel-chair bound. He was very well-traveled, very experienced, very patient, very present, and very permanent. This, he told me, was why he would not, or rather could not, whisk me away from my life until it was time.
…and I became very close. You could almost say we were friends. I did. In my final hour, he was there.
…waited for me, over the years, at the foot of the stagnant bed, in the stale room, in the overly-crowded nursing home.
…would be there waiting for me when I returned, right where I left him.
…would never ask me about my trips to the hospital. I could tell by his eyes that he had heard that story many times before.
…watched me leave that room many times as I stayed in the home. Each time came sooner than the time before. And each time I took longer returning.
…was, as usual, right there at the foot of the bed the morning I awoke from my last temporary night of sleep.
…communicated with me, I believe, in my sleep that night.
…prepared me for the morning.
…assured me, that should no one else be available, he would be there.
…knew I would be alone. All these years, he knew. He told me in my dreams last night. That’s why he had been with me all these years.
…knew that I needed these years to get to know him. He knew he needed to court me. He knew the separation from the life I knew would be difficult, so he courted me. Wooed me. So that, on that final night, I wouldn’t be alone, wouldn’t feel abandoned.
…and I strolled hand-in-hand, together, out of my life, my world and into his. Finally, after all the years of begging and pleading, praying, and crying; we were one.
Written July 5, 1999, for my Aunt Tee, upon her passing.