Thursday, July 17, 2008
July 18, 2007
I don’t remember much about that day, one year ago, except this:
The Ranger and I were trying to sleep in, but the phone kept ringing, ringing, ringing. Finally, I rose, pawed through a pile of dirty clothes and answered, still groggy. It was R, my brother, his words a cluster of low-hanging clouds before a storm. Our brother is dead, he mumbled, went to bed early after his birthday dinner because he was tired. Didn’t wake up. The police are here. And the paramedics. But it’s too late.
I turned to the Ranger, who was still curled up in bed, and whispered, “Help me.” When I finally opened my eyes, I was lying on the floor, the phone still in my fist, and the Ranger was pressing on my chest and blowing into my mouth. He kept shouting, “Breathe! Breathe!” while the dog barked frantically, nipping at my ears even though he kept batting her away. My head was ringing from all the noise. I remember thinking this was the first time we’d ever heard Mia bark. Baby’s first bark. And I was missing it.
I lay on the floor for many days I think. Or hours. The Ranger could have lifted me up and carried me to the bed, but chose not to. Instead, he feathered a nest of quilts and pillows and puppy dog. All things soft. Sometimes, you have to let something lay where it falls until you figure out where to put it.
At one point, the Neighbor stood in the doorway of the bedroom juggling a large silver package the size of my head. It smelled amazing. I made you a potato bomb, he said, it will make you feel better, but you have to get up because I can’t give it to you there it’s too messy.
So the Ranger set a table on the porch, my chair turned towards the ocean, and the Neighbor cut open the bomb. Out spilled a few of my favorite things: Kielbasa. Wild Mushrooms. Grilled Onion. All stewed together in some kind of creamy, herb sauce that smelled like wood chips and loamy earth and my grandmother’s cast iron stove. I ate everything but the tin foil.
After lunch, I tried to return to my nest, but the Ranger tugged at my arm. He was holding a suitcase I didn’t recognize and an E-ticket. “We have to leave,” he said. “To Portland. We have to go now.”
So we did.