Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Old Sheet Music, the Rabbit Hole, and Ruby Slippers

She called last night, sounding like old sheet music worn at the edges that the band left on bleachers and then forgot.

She laughed about how at our age, if you don’t drink a lot, a glass or two of wine can work wonders for a busy head. She said that her mind had been places over the last few weeks, not quite the places where mine goes, but strange enough places, weird places. For her that little bit was more about herself than she usually reveals in a year.

I wondered if she knew how tired she sounded. I wondered if she knew why she called.

I did.

She remarked on the tragic death that had visited her son’s close friend. She told the story of how her son was still responding. She talked about how he went into the cave and laid down on his bed. She told me she wanted to help. What I heard was how helpless she felt.

“I am worried. I am worried. I am worried,” she said. “If I say that three times, will it go away?”
“Yes, Dorothy,” I answered as softly as I could. “It will go away.”

She said something about getting some ruby shoes then.

She said she knew that the problem was one of grieving. I said I knew that too. She said that she bought a book about it for him.

“Books are good,” she said. “Books are good. "

“Yes. they are.” I said, “Maybe you bought it for you.”

“Yeah,” she acknowledged that.

Then she told me all of the weird places where her mind had gone in the past few weeks. They were to stories of our growing up. I could hear her trying to find home again, trying to know that something, something real will lasts. She asked me an extremely personal question. She said most girls know the answer to that and I realized I don't know about any of my friends.

She wondered why I hesitated when I answered. I said because I didn't like the answer. I'd change it if I could. She said you were too nice. I said I still am about things like that. I'm working on it. She told me not to that it was those things, those kind things that would get us to heaven in the end.

She never talks about heaven. But last night she did.

She also asked me to do something if she ever got hit by a bus. I took the number and promised to make the call.

I think back now of many times she said that she asked her son, “Can I come in and lay down with you?” She said you can’t pick up a 22 year old man and rock him anymore.

Aw Dorothy, this is Alice in Wonderland, we’ve known each other so well and so long. I’ve been down the rabbit hole, through the looking glass, beat up, and come back again. I don’t know very much, but this I do know. You are fine. You are good. You are exactly perfect just as you are.

She called last night, sounding like old sheet music worn at the edges. I can’t tell her today what a symphony she is, because she only shares her fear every ten or so years.

But I have to believe. I have to bet my heart that she’ll look down to see the ruby shoes that she already has.
−me strauss Letting me be


David Zemens said...

Death is a strange visitor, isn't it? Especially when it comes to the party uninvited - without an invitation and when none of the other partygoers are anticipating the suprise visit.

Like always, those of us that remain will survive, in one manner or another. The pain dissipates, slowly, even if it never quite disappears.

If only the hurt would wash out with the tide, too. The hurt seems to linger and never leave. I guess that is what makes life so special, isn't it?

ME Strauss said...

Hi David,
What wise words you write. I've been reading them over and over. Your words are beautiful as well as wise. Thank you for leaving them here.

David Zemens said...


I am humbled by the fact that someone with your writing skills would refer to my words as "beautiful", let alone suggest you read them more than once!

It was my pleasure drop those words off for a visit at your website. Thank you for making that possible.

Dawn said...

What a transformative thing it is when another human being cares enough to look beyond the outside of who we are and see what lies within.

You gave your friend a great gift. She may not recognize it immediately, but she will. It may help her down the road to be more willing to risk sharing herself with you again.

ME Strauss said...

Hi David,
Words spoken with clarity from the heart are always beautiful. I just read them again.

ME Strauss said...

Hi Dawn,
No worries about her knowing or her sharing. A friendship old as this one takes some things as given, and they are good things . . . love unconditional.

Cheryl said...

The perversely beautiful side effect of loss is suddenly you know what matters and who you would want covering your back.

This is an extra special post.

ME Strauss said...

Wow, Cheryl, I understand what your words mean and to find them here means a lot.

Thank you.

Jessica said...

I come here Liz when I'm feeling calm, ready to read and willing to share. I come here to learn that emotion may be lonely yet the emotion felt is echoed wordwide at any given moment in time regardless of cause or outcome.

Thank you for sharing your phone conversation with your friend "Dorothy".

I think as humans we try to pawn our needs onto others to comfort our own grief and sorrow because we feel our own feelings are not important or real.

Very special post indeed :)

ME Strauss said...

Oh Jessica,
Thank you for listening with your calm and your humanity. What you wrote brings tears to my eyes.

We need each other to understand our own needs.