Dear M

imageDear M,

Beautiful is the soft underbelly of pain. I thought that after leaving you today. You had asked me to pick out a dress to match your hot pink nail polish. “Not that one,” you said, “It’s the wrong shade.” We laughed at your vanity in the midst of your pain. As you talked on the phone you touched your wisps of hair absently. Like the last leaves about to fall before winter. You talked with K and said she too was going through the change. We sat and you watched the Norwegian massacre memorial concert. The flicker of the TV lit your face a blue-green. I thought the flickers looked like the ocean reflecting on you. You said, “I think a storm is coming our way,” and I thought you were making a political commentary, but you were just talking about the weather.

I left you. Outside it was hot. Children were laughing and fighting. You say it is all too bright and loud. Living. I could hear the wind blowing through the leaves in the treetops. Did I tell you that everything but us humans praise Allah in simply being? The leaves rustling in the wind are rustling “Allah.” The cat meowing as he stretches up to my hand is meowing and arching his back “Allah.” I thought I heard your sighs in the rustling leaves. Those sighs you make in your sleep when you’re not quite here. I pray for you.

S


Dear M,

There is a painting by Van Gogh above your hospital bed. I don’t think you noticed it today. It was the same as the one over your sofa in your apartment in Sacramento. N noticed it too. But you read signs of your death in everything these days so we avoided it and talked about evolution instead. I read that the Mountain Gorilla, the South China Tiger, the Blue Whale, the Bald Eagle are endangered. Did you know tigers have a better memory than any other animal, including humans? A wise Sheikh said it is aspects of our humanity we are killing out with these animals. Eagles that can see beyond the horizon and whales that can communicate up to 1,600km apart. He said that jellyfish are growing in number. Jellyfish that have no spines.

And I wonder what quality of my humanity disappears with you.

S


Dear M,

I think of the ocean. That like in that book, you will soon be dead like the ocean is deep and wide. I remember the red heart you sewed onto the jean skirt where the sewing scissors you sat on cut through. On that last childhood car trip to Monterey. The heat of the back seat of plush red velour, rising up and warming the backs of my legs still sticky from the ocean and sand. The air conditioning blowing at our hair, chilly like the bite of a popsicle on the back tooth, while we waited for you to get stitches. You called the patch your bleeding heart.

You asked them today how they could fill you up with so much new blood. You know like a pitcher of water, there is only so much space; so don’t they need to take some out? We spoke of God and memory. Of faith and fear. It was a soft blanket we found comfort in. The night is cold and lonely sometimes. You asked me to promise to be there when it was time. So you wouldn’t go alone. I looked at my hand. I said I would try. We watched the blood pump into you. Tubes of blood all thick and red, not clear like the poison you get. You asked me what people say when I talk about being a Muslim. “Do you still drink?” is the most common question I say. The second is if I wear a hijab. We watch the tube of poison drip into you. You say people have strange notions of freedom.

S


Dear M,

Tilted room and spinning. Holding the walls to walk and clutching the end of the bed to throw my body back into. Even days after my vertigo I can still feel it hovering in the back of my mind. Like a thought on the tip of my tongue or a key I misplaced. I think of you. Sometimes I thought the vertigo was you. I can remember as a child the days you spent lying in your bed with it yourself. Dark rooms, closed doors. I remember being embarrassed, as everyone seemed to share smiles in the hallway. Phobia they winked.

I feel you with me as an echo. I see you in your bed, with your tubes, like a messy and sad cyborg. I walked the same paths you and I walk. Down by the water and through the gardens. I stopped and stared at a handkerchief tree for a while. It was beautiful and still. Alone and roped off. It is the tree I hope to see in Paradise. I sat on the bench that you and I sat on once watching the cherry blossoms swirl around and fall. A few days before you left. Now their swirls have become biting mosquitos. Remember that we talked about the dreaming we do when we are caught in an endless sadness and feel too close to death whispering? I told you that I always felt light to the side of my face in those moments. That I felt Allah.

Waiting for a bus later I saw flutterings of white come from high up above the street, in front of apartment windows and between the green treetops. Like white butterflies falling down from the blue heavens. I thought of you. Of the story of the butterfly that you told me as a child; to explain death and heaven. I walked towards the whiteness and felt as if I had done all this before. In a dream once. In a dream where I asked a Muslim woman on just this street, at this spot, where the closest mosque was. As I reached the pavement where the flutterings had fallen, I saw they were just bits of paper. Some remnants of paper left after the student party trucks had passed, caught up in the swooshing wind left by the passing cars.

S


Dear M,

The tick of that Mickey Mouse clock hung slightly crooked on the wall above my chair organizes so much of our day. I think of the Mickey Mouse watch you gave me once as a child and wonder if I still have it in some box in a garage some other place. My memories seem to only rip away at a future where you will not be. And this clock ticking above us feels somehow like our past is counting down into our beginning. You look at it again to mark the time of your medicines, or maybe how long you will hold off the pain before your ask again for morphine. I distract you from that clock. I hate your looking at it. You are enveloped in niceties. Beige and white blankets, flowers by your bed, the sun outside your window. I tell you that when non-believers talk of Islam it feels like a heavy blanket. Like one of those fleece or velour types that sit flat and heavy. I can only sweat in them. You laugh and tell me to kick the blanket off then.

You fall in and out of sleep. The heave in and billows out of air you breathe are captured between the ticks of the clock making some language of your living. I taste death within these endless days. As layers of soap covering red speckled linoleum. As mosquitos buzzing against white curtains. That clock ticks again. You wake startled and your eyes dart towards it. You heave a sigh of disgust. “I’m still here.” I know what you mean but I ask what you were dreaming. “I was under layers of ice on ice staring through the eyes of so many others.” I look down at my newspaper. I read to you that they have started to take x-rays of children’s bones. On children seeking asylum. You cry. I imagine these children’s x-rays being looked at and talked about by doctors and others, like your treatments and life are here. “There is just no benefit in it. The cost is too much.” You say it is evil. I say evil is distance from God.I turn my eyes away towards the tubes pumping medicine and blood through your body. I ask you if you want some more water. You ask me if I still hold that insatiable thirst for water. To not just drink but to be submerged. You remind me again that it is the thirst for God. You recite the Gospel of John. Did I ever tell you a psychologist once told me it was a desire to be back in the womb? I read that in the womb the heart beats before there is a central nervous system. In Islam we say that Allah blows our souls into our bodies while we are in the womb and our heart beats A-llah A-llah. It is to Allah our soul returns. The clock ticks again.

S


Published in Feminist Perspektiv May 2nd, 2015

https://feministisktperspektiv.se/2014/05/02/dear-m/

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