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.
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