My insides are rustling in breezes making the scratching music of dry leaves on dead twigs.
It is a lonely, little song. Not much of a song at all. Just the skittering whispers of my spirit. The wind blowing through the holes, my experiences and knowledge and beliefs all scattered like garden detritus at my feet.
Barren. Bare twig. Dead leaf.
And I make a decision.
I’d rather the wind howl in my soul full of holes. At least the hollow moan is real. Undressed, unfilled, naked, waiting.
Every day since Lazarus walked, alive and whole, out of that tomb seemed like a new gift to unwrap. Everyone speaks of second chances, but when you really get one, the air around you is electric with possibility and hope. I learned something on that awful, wonderful day when Jesus came walking up our lane and we knew we’d have to tell him he was too late: Lazarus had succumbed to the sickness that had wasted his body. We’d washed his spare, slack limbs and rubbed the oils into his skin, wound the cloth around him and set him to rest in the family tomb. I’d fallen at Jesus’ feet, just crumpled with despair. I had so many questions but I just blurted out, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” We knew Jesus could have healed Lazarus. So lost I was. What would Martha and I do now? What were we supposed to even believe? And Jesus’ tears matched my own and his shoulders shook from the sobbing and …
The reminders of the renting of the veil press upon my ears and clutch my throat. I swallow for a bit of spittle to quench my thirst.
Sparrows chipped in the pines overhead, the October sky shone brilliant as a bluebird’s breast, a pickup turned the corner and rumbled east and a grasshopper landed on a tall, seeded spire of grass. I watched it swaying there on its mast. And in the midst of all the soporific murmurs of an ordinary afternoon, I think because I stopped to listen, I heard the heartbeats cease and the veil rent. I am perforated by the empty end of lives I never knew.
The yielding of ghosts.
A tear falls and I’m silly. I’m a lady wearing yoga pants beside the road, crying over the death of people she never knew. But it’s my death, too. Because we share it all—this suffering, this toddling, loving, worrying, planning life is terminal.