Fall Into Peace
September 11th, 2013
They had been falling for four thousand, three hundred, and eighty-one days.
There when he expected them, there when he thought maybe, just maybe,
they had finally quieted and would let him sleep long and deep and free.
He had always thought of that first leap as an act of courage, of defiance,
as a final, No, not you – I will choose my fate, you don’t get to choose for me.
Saw that leap out and away from the flames as a flight of hope, an
affirmation of the epic of an ordinary life, saw in it the acceptance of the
inevitable of this single unexpected moment. He saw grace.
There was a beauty in the fall, an unexpected peace that showed as a lack
of struggle against, a long, solitary flight to an end too near, but I understand,
I will go, take me, love me, love them, please please love them.
There was nothing ugly in that leap to freedom, that fall to peace. A choice
to fly rather than burn, a decision to choose this death for myself. It was a
gift to the people they loved here I am, this is what I choose, I don’t want
you to search in vain or never know. here I am and I love you.
The horror was that last fraction of a moment, when the choice was made
and the flight was done, when skin and bone and blood and heat and love
hit the unyielding gray of the sidewalk they would never again walk, the street
they would never again drive, the city they would forever be a part of. That
last fraction of a moment, that instant he couldn’t fix, over and over and over
again that day, was what burned into the hollows behind his eyes, sounded
and resounded forever in his ears, haunted his heart.
They were falling again, and he woke shaking and sweating and sobbing.
She pulled him in close against her breasts, and smoothed the soaked hair
off his forehead. She wrapped her arms and legs and love around him,
and she rocked him and soothed him and waited.
When his breath and his body and his mind finally quieted, she said, it’s
time to let them go.
He said, I can’t. I can’t forget them. ever.
Of course not, she said, of course you won’t. They are as much a part of you
as your wife or your daughters or that time you swam naked in the fountain.
She gentled a tear from his cheek. She said, listen.
Once, she said, one time, there was nothing to be done but witness. And
you didn’t look away. You witnessed their courage and their fear and their
choosing and their death. You gave a part of yourself to die with them.
You gave them your love and your sorrow and your anger. She kissed his
forehead, and then his left eyelid and his right eyelid, and the tip of his nose
and she smiled. She said quiet into his ear, It’s time for you to help them, baby.
It was only the one time that there was nothing to be done. Help them.
And she tightened her arms and her legs and her love around him and she
pulled him inside and rocked him and soothed him and waited for sleep.
They were falling again. The woman with the long brown hair. The man in
the dark suit with the kaleidoscope tie. The quiet one. He watched from
inside her, watched the leap and the flight and he knew.
He caught her first, the woman with the long brown hair, now twelve years
dead. He caught her and his knees buckled and his heart broke, but he
cradled her in his arms, then laid her down easy on the unyielding gray.
He touched her forehead and her chin, her closed left eye, then her right,
and he said, There was only one time that couldn’t be changed. He said,
You have my promise. I will never forget you. I will never look away.
I will catch you and lay you down gentle and talk to you until you no longer
have to fall, and then I will miss you.
Four thousand, three hundred, and eighty-two days.
Loree Harrell; 2009 – 2013