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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Daisy Gayle - Part II

When you stand over a grave, the world comes at you from the ground up.  You aren't standing in grass, you are standing on it.  The underworld looks up up at you and you try to look back. Those who went before you are only meters away, but the gulf death has put between you is insurmountable.  You try to look anyway. Many emotions compete for your attention, but you mostly see what you want or need to see.

Some people see their loved ones. Other's become closer to god. Other's still find peace in the silence. You look for a long time in all cases. Which is what I did.

I stood for what must have been an hour looking at the chiseled letters that spelled out her name.  "Daisy Gayle", even in death it was the most exciting name I had ever heard.  Not for the beauty of the name itself or the woman who had embodied the name, but for the vivid memories the name brought to my mind.  Her quick smile, caring touch, and the long forgotten scent masked lightly with a hint of lilacs all bubbled forth in my thoughts.  The dreadful permanence of my fleeting moments with Daisy that one night came into stark and barren contrast with my present reason to visit with her.

In the age of the Internet it hadn't take me long at all to find her. Within 24 hours I had made my way here to be with her.  I was trying to make sense of the suicide in the context of what I knew of her.

What I knew was amazingly limited beyond my one encounter. The obituary had indicated that her life had exceeded any one's dreams for her.  They knew that she was brilliant, but her contributions to the world of physics had astounded even her colleagues.  She had made predictions that would be tested for centuries, and proven correct at every turn. She had been generous in spirit, was beloved by all and had been celebrated for her many accomplishments.  Everyone had been surprised by her chosen method of death. Taking her own life had been unthinkable.

The cemetery where she was buried was built into the side of a hill.  The graves were oriented so that you either were looking up at an angle toward the heavens or into trees teeming with life.  When you turned to leave you were instantly confronted with the valley below.  It juxtaposed your grim surroundings with the broad sweep of the valley itself. This time of year the valley was lush and vibrant with grass, trees and the hum of wildlife. The promise of life stood just beyond this patch of death.

I closed my eyes and tried to breath.  A world without Daisy in it was incomprehensible. I had forced her out of my world due to fear, but now her forever absence made everything feel smaller, squeezed and impassible. My mind raced to find any sense in it. It found none.

I stood for a long while after the world began to fold in on me.  I tuned out the light sprinkles of rain that washed over me.  The world got smaller.  I heard no bird calls.  I smelled no flowers even though I could see some on nearby gravestones. I felt trapped and then I felt numb. I stared unendingly at her tombstone unable to tear myself way. The world became smaller still.  I was crying and didn't even know it.

Tipping my head further skyward I tried to shut off the part of my brain that recognized light. I sought solace in the company of darkness.  Even in the pitch black of my all consuming grief I could see her lighting my way. Calling me back. Defeated, I opened my eyes before the shrinking world shut me away. In a last act of total will, I turned and walked away from Daisy's last resting place.  I strode forth knowing that if I turned back I would be lost in a universe full of what ifs.  I had to accept that she was gone and that I had been my own undoing in ever seeing her alive again.

As I walked back to my car I suddenly felt the darkness lift.  Had the rain stopped?  Yes, it was as if it had never rained. Each step drove off the darkness. Distance between myself and Daisy's grave was liberating.  I was transported to a world filled with possibility by the time I reached my car.  Exiting the cemetery in my car, I turned right.  I was in a whole new world.  I quickly found myself now lost in joy.

As I approached the light on the corner of Smithville Rd and Rt 50 I had begun to normalize and focus on what I needed to do when I got home. The visit to her grave was helping me forget Daisy Gayle. I wasn't paying attention when I turned my car into oncoming traffic.  My car was totaled head on by a Porsche Cayenne. My life this time was saved by a combination of seat belts, air bags and the driver of the car I had hit.

As I lost consciousness this time, I was aware I was screaming. I should have been screaming in pain from broken and bruised flesh. Terror flashed in my eyes as I recognized the driver of the other car.  She was covering me with a blanket and putting my jacket under my feet.  She was comforting me and telling me it would be all right. As darkness consumed me I looked into the eyes of Dr. Daisy Gayle, PhD.  Twenty years older, somehow even lovelier than in college and completely alive. I would awake days later still screaming "They told me you were dead".

1 comment:

  1. Again, the twist at the end is great, especially with the lead up to leaving the grave and feeling better instead of worse. Great descriptors of the cemetery too.

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