What was I supposed to say at that sorrow-saturated moment, when you stood behind securityâ€™s velvet rope, reaching out for me one last time? I couldnâ€™t follow you to your gate, I canâ€™t follow you in to hell, I must follow this war even more closely, because you have been deployed, though you werenâ€™t supposed to be.
If we could all go back in time, would some of us have voted the way we did, if we knew this is where we would be in May of 2007? I didnâ€™t vote for him and I certainly didnâ€™t vote for this nightmarish occupation which causes nothing but anguish, for innocents cowering in their own homes, for the young, so very young men and women in uniform who witness that and for the relatives of those witnesses, who walk about in a depressed haze, worrying if the last time…was that the last good-bye?
Dazed, I now sleepwalk similarly through my days, wondering where you are, if youâ€™ve had proper food (vegan? In the military??) and if you are okay. I canâ€™t focus, I canâ€™t sleep and Iâ€™m grateful to be an allergy sufferer, because it gives my tears and the perma-red eyes they descend from acceptable reasons to exist.
I miss you already, little sister and only sibling of mine. You will always be three to me, knobby knees and ankle socks, super-short hair and moody sweetness. I miss everything about you and I wish you could come home.
What kind of a war are we waging if we send people who just survived cancer scares over, I asked a mutineer. â€œWeâ€™re sending people with spinal cord injuries, what do you think?â€ was their reply. I think we should support our troops, by bringing them home NOW. And I felt that way before I knew they would take you, too.
That soul-crushing moment when I had to let you go, when I couldnâ€™t stop hearing Jeff Buckleyâ€™s voice in my head crooning â€œLast Goodbyeâ€, I lost every word in my expanded-thanks-to-Scripps-Howard vocabulary. I stumbled with my leaden tongue instead of my wobbly feet, awkwardly letting â€œbyeâ€, â€œbe wellâ€ and â€œtake care of yourselfâ€ get muddled in to some nasty clichÃ© cocktail. What I really wanted to tell you, was “I love you, so very much. You are precious to me and I will count the hours until you return.” But that truth never came out of my lips. At least I didnâ€™t cry, not while you were looking. Only when the tram took you away from me did my tear ducts release pain and fear. And Buckley was there again:
There’s a blaze of light
In every word
It doesn’t matter which you heard
The holy or the broken Hallelujah
I did my best, it wasn’t much
I couldn’t feel, so I tried to touch
I’ve told the truth, I didn’t come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I’ll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah [Cohen]
I did my best, Kalyani. It wasn’t much. And even though it all went wrong, I’ll stand before the Lord of Song with nothing on my tongue but hallelujah…because at least I got to hug you good-bye, unlike our Mother, who wasn’t given a chance for such grace, who could only weep from 3,000 miles away while she prayed for your safety.
This Friday, write about pain, farewells, uncertainty, war or whatever haunts you.
Ten years ago, Jeff Buckley drowned in Memphis; that tragedy stole his shimmering, otherworldly vibrato and left thousands of music-lovers wondering, â€œWhat if…?â€. Write about him or other voices which will never sing again, like Nusrat’s, which inspired him.
Earlier this week, I couldnâ€™t get Marvin Gayeâ€™s Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) out of my head; find inspiration in his work, if you like. Write whatever story you feel like telling, as long as it contains just 55 sets of unbroken characters, because itâ€™s Friday and if youâ€™re anything like me, words are how Hygeiaâ€™s sister soothes you.