The surf is loud in my ears’, the sun is warm on my cheek, and a storm wind whips a gray cloud through the blue sky over my head every now and again. Here I sit curled up on my red comforter alone. Silence and peace. They are such wonderful things.
I have a small part-time job as an aide, and I earn about two hundred dollars a month. The best thing of all is that the rent is covered for the next three months. Lenora and Tim have moved out into an apartment of their own, and Tim has a job. Lessa and Jock are getting an apartment in the Purple Palace. Everything seems as if it has been out of control for months, and at last there is a moment of quiet to pull it all back together again. I have been drinking madly, wantonly again. I said I would quit yet my drinking has gotten only worse. I have to end this and force it all back under control again. I cannot have a show and a job and drink the way I have been. Dorothy holds my hands, Duck and Dale help, but still I drink.
I’m much better today. It must have been the salami I ate two days ago that did me in yesterday. I baked the pain out at the south wall of the bathrooms on the beach with Duck and Fran, and today I think I’m going to be fine if I keep my eating simple.
I have been rereading On Death and Dying by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross all week. Although it hasn’t told me much new, it has been a comforting thing for me. It prompted me to call Jo’s, and I reached her husband.
“We are trying to make sure Jo stays asleep,” he whispered.
The house is crowded now. All her kids are there, and one of her sisters has driven down.
“The pain is under control, but she isn’t sleeping much. The doctor says she only has a couple of days now….”
There are so few words I can remember of that conversation.
“If there is anything I can do, just call me,” I said for him not for Jo.
I walked on down to the beach to have a dialogue with Jo. She believed that we could communicate this way, and assured me that she would hear me after her death. I saw her not sleeping the remaining days away, but floating above me as I walked alone along the sand in the sun.
Hello Jo. Are you walking beside me or floating above me? I see you now in purple, the floating gauze of your favorite shirt. Isn’t it good to be free again? Hello Jo. This is the only way we can talk now. Though you always said it wouldn’t be one-sided, I feel it is. The wonderful sound of your voice meant a lot to me. I already miss that terribly. I’m pleased that the last words we said the other night were, “I love you.” I was thinking this morning that you taught me how to say those words honestly.
Tears come to my eyes unbidden – often. It will probably be like that a lot in the next few weeks.
As I walked in my door a minute ago, I was stopped by the thought of both Jo and my lover. Two cherished people lost irrevocably one way or another this year but lost forever. There will be other lives that I live and other loves, but never do I think will I have anything as special again as these two people. Starting anew has little savor for me with them gone from my life. I must be one of those people who seem outwardly so solid and together to the world, yet without my friends, I feel I’m nothing.
Newspaper conversations, lifeguard conversations…I am glad to be a part of it all today. Warm laundry for my handicapped person. Sun on my face while I folded laundry. Jo is becoming a faint fading voice on the telephone. I spent the whole day avoiding thinking about her, but it didn’t work. Jo and thoughts of Jo seeped into my thoughts all day. One of the volleyball people stopped and asked me about her. It hurt me so to say she is still alive and in agony. I call and get more whispers.
The phone rang, and bounding out of bed, I caught it on the first ring. It was Dan.
“Jo died,” he said. “Last night. About two-thirty…they had just lifted her into bed. She was talking to herself the way she was doing these days, and they turned away for just a moment. She was silent. She died.” Silent and peaceful.
The first words I said were, “I am glad; I am so glad.”
And I am. For a while I was joyful and glad just remembering that the last few years of pain and torture are now over. Now she has release from all that at last. Dan and I telegraphed PAH and his wife, and Terry. Dan called Layla and Timmy. Briefly, I called Jo’s house, but her husband was walled and busy. I hope her three kids are OK. I have a great longing to go down to Chula Vista and just hug them all, but feel rejected by the wall.
I wrote her name on the sand at the beach and watched the tide wash it away. I am so glad her pain is over now, and I keep thinking of the wonderful place that she is in. I see her happy now…the gold and silver air all around her a welcoming joy and peace.
Slowly I wandered down the beach…walking, not thinking. The bright blue sky was scattered with rain filled cumulus…they seemed immense. Down by the lifeguard tower I saw a row of tiny kites flew doing spirals and circles, dancing in the sky. Mesmerized, I slowly drew closer until I found myself directly underneath the flying, wild things in the air. Not on purpose did I do this.
Suddenly I felt they were dancing just for Jo. The colors were heightened against that dramatic sky as the kites dove and danced above my head. Straight down from the clouds they fell, their colors larger than life, the sound of the wind in the canvas filling my mind. Their beauty filled my world. I could not move. With a silly, slow smile on my face, I stood completely one with the flying colors.