Tree Limbs and Handprints
Aubrey and I spent the morning cutting down dead limbs from trees.
Sun enters in to replace the dead branches.
Fear enters in, reminding me the trees are only temporary.
Bill worrying they may die, and the value diminish.
How I try to look at their beauty, and not their existence.
I see handprints on the vent hood. Staring at me. Irking me. Who did this? I wipe them away, awash with the memory of Bill, leaning in, cooking something, while he rests his weight on his hand above the stove.
I am nearing the end of owning the last home Bill and I owned as a couple.
Most possessions have made their way to the new home, with the exception of a few staging items.
The wood wall has spent the last seven months in negotiation in my mind.
Should I keep it?
Should I let it go?
Turmoil at the thought. He built this wall during the throws of cancer. He built it as a headboard for us. Likely, he knew by then, that he built it for me.
I am reminded of the dream I had days before his terminal diagnosis, the one with the wall in the background:
January 17th, 2017
I awaken around 3:00am from a dream.
I was lost in the backdrop of a city, somewhere, not sure what city or how I arrived there. I called you, but you said you couldn’t come because you were in bed. You didn’t feel good.
I begin walking down alleys, feeling the breath of threat on my neck, even though all I pass only stare, without attack.
I enter a dark restaurant and look around at the backdrop, looking for someone. No one. I go out the back door where all the work happens, and as I exit, a woman goes in. I attempt to follow her. But, the door shuts on me.
As I walk to an intersection, I see some familiar faces, along with some unfamiliar. I ask a familiar one in the midst if she is going home, and can I get a ride. She says that they are going out, and not home. Her look appears equally amused and incredulous as she gives me the simplest of two directions to find my way home–turn left and then right. Or was it right and then left? I don’t know.
I attempt to follow instructions, but feel the sense of panic as my only “float” drifts away from the scene.
Somehow though, I am on the phone with Taylor and Aubrey. They are wondering where I am. I tell them I called home, but their dad wouldn’t come for me. “Yeah, he doesn’t feel good,” one remarks.
They arrive on the scene as soon as the phone call ends.
After, I lay in bed and try to fall asleep; I am not in my bedroom, or am I? The light comes on above my head as we have lights built into the headboard that Bill built not too long ago.
He tells me he turned on the light so I could sleep. He is relieved that I made it home. I’m a bit irritated because the light irritates my intent to fall deep into the darkness of drowsiness.
But, instead of turning it off, he walks away. I look at the light as I lay there in the bed.
The wood wall? I’ve decided to leave it where it was built. My hope is that another family will enjoy the fruit of his labor.
I’m reminded of something else Bill built out of wood. Shortly after we moved into the home, a storm took down one of the trees in the backyard. From the remnants, he made five chargers, each one to represent one in our family tree.
They used to hang on a wall outside my bedroom.
They’ve been sitting on the ground here in the new home, collecting dust and dog hair, waiting for their new placement.
Maybe I can hang them above my bed and use as an unconventional headboard of sorts? After all, the wall is empty, and I am without a headboard.
In a month, the home will be behind me, as were the other nine we lived in together over the years. But our memories will live on. The details will fade away, to make space for new ones, but the beauty of our lives together will live on forever.