I am standing near the curb of a well-manicured front lawn and a green grass evocative of any standard vision of the classic American suburban yard. Standing on the periphery, clearly distraught but detached from the immediate situation, is my Mother. A very cute, very aloof family dog hops about randomly, not at all noticing the body lying prone near the street.
It is one of my sisters who lay motionless on the soft, slightly damp, slightly cool grass. I have no clue what has happened, only that for practical purposes she’s “gone.” Her body is alive, yes, but she cannot move, cannot speak, cannot hear.
I kneel beside her, placing my cheek to hers, my warm ear making slight contact with her cooler one. To my surprise, she begins to speak to me telepathically.
“The dog won’t even pay any attention to me. He just keeps pooping and peeing all over.”
“But he’s just a pup, Sis, he doesn’t know that there’s something wrong.”
“But I’m laying right here. It seems quite obvious I’m not moving, something’s obviously wrong” she sent, her lips still, her eyes open and staring straight but taking in nothing.
My Sister is replaced by my niece, who is now laying in the same spot–in an identically helpless, mute, motionless pose. Sadness overwhelms me.
I kneel beside her, press my ear to hers, and am surprised that she too has the power of direct mind-to-mind communication, at least with me.
“I want you to know that I always loved you” she “said,” though I knew immediately these were fickle emotions of adolescence.
“Oh, Dear, I love you too. But don’t worry about such things, you just be peaceful now.”
“But it’s important for you to know…”
“Sweetie, know that that means the world to me. But you just rest now.”
The adolescent crush expressed, one that only the young could have for an older relative, devastated me with its innocence and innocent beauty. That this was her worry in her moment of, at least leaving the life she’d known if not dying, was absurd, sweet, and infinitely tragic.
I am transported to a swank hotel ballroom where lunch is being served to my Mother, two brothers, two other sisters, and, at the far end of the table, my Father and one of my own long-dead uncles. I do not acknowledge the older men who seem distant and disinterested.
As I pull back my chair, my Mother exclaims “Jon, it’s your favorite restaurant!”
This surprises me as I am quite sure I have never been here before.
“I don’t think I’ve ever been here, so I’m quite surprised it’s my favorite!”
It was snarky, but drew an easy laugh from my siblings.
“But, you just love this place!”
A plate with sliced cucumbers and a sweet minty green fruit salad is placed before me, and all told it just looks like a giant mint cocktail. I take a bite from the spot where the cucumber just meets (just mixes with) the fruit salad, and I am astonished by its deliciousness.
My heart, however, is heavy.