and only now do I realize I'm bleeding.
I hold my hand as the blood flows into it. My insides are coming out. There is no stopping it this time, I am sure I will bleed to death. I stare curiously at the stuff oozing from me. It's familiar. My guts came out often in the beginning, days and weeks just after he died. So often that when I had "normal" days, I jittered in nervousness, my hand uncomfortable in its emptiness.
As I bleed, I retrace each wound, hoping (quiet silly actually) that if I know where they come from I will be able to duck it next time, to drop fast enough that the bullet will whiz overhead.
Wound #1 Fall Coming (Home Coming) at Windward.
In honor of Art, Langston is the guest team captain, flipping the coin, then jumping in the middle of the football team, the mascot for the moment. He as big as them, but his 12 year old grin giving away his delight at being with the "big guys." I'm laughing watching the man-child wallow in his man-childness.
Varsity Windward Coach Scott (the man responsible for putting Art's initials on the helmet)
Ezra with the Helmet of Honor
Langston getting riled up with the Windward Varity Team before the game....which they won!
Wound #2 The Art's Memorial Run
I greet friends at the Art Nagle table, humbled by their early morning presense just to run with him and me.
I run with, for and because of Art. I beat him too, competitiveness NOT going to the grave with him! I cross the finish line, and squat by the fence. Holding onto it as I cry and cry and cry.
some of our friends who ran with Art.
Art's dad at the finish line.
The Art Nagle Table
Marda writes the names of those who have lost their battle with cancer, her brother included
Julie Talbert, the kind, gentle and expansive soul behind the Talbert Family Foundation
Wound #3 Last Week at The 7th Flag Football Game
I remember Langston's 7th grade team winning. I remember cheering and laughing and jumping up and down. I remember hearing "Championship game is tomorrow." I remember sitting on the bleachers, at what used to Art's school and now is only Langston's school, looking every now and then waiting for Art to appear, entering the field with his distinct long gate, hands in pocket, to see his son play.
Langston with Nana and Grandpa.
Wound #4 The Championship Game
Windward 7th Grade flag football team wins the championship, I am jumping up and down (and peeing in my dress!), yelling and screaming. He runs fast, he catches two touch down passes, he intimidates their quarterback. I growl with his fiercenss, loving the way he has found his aggressiveness on the field, putting it inside his big size, making him intimidating.
At the end of the game, I swear that I hear Art say "Great job, kiddo!" to Langston with pride and awe at a child that shows talent in an area where his parents have none.
The Winning Team
And then it's today. Before the tears come, I put my hand out, expecting to feel him in his spot. For one more second I wonder what time he got up to go for his run. And then I am crying before I'm fully awake.
A moan passes my lips, causing them to vibrate. It shakes my vocal chords. It is then that I know I am bleeding again. Loosing bits of myself in the realization (again and again and again) that he is no more. He's missed all of this. He will continue to miss all of this. It is so fundamentally sad that I am dumbfounded, mute, frozen, no words to adequately express this loss.
And yet....while the blood gushes from my body, it stops sooner than last time. I know quickly that, no, I won't bleed to death, it no longer takes me hours to realize that. The clean up takes less time, too. I am not as sore afterwards.
7 months was yesterday. I forgot till today. I have to get the car, pick up the kids and do our routine that we have established. The one that does not include him in any way.
And I smile at myself. I smile at them. We are doing this. This thing that I never thought I could do is being done. And this time I drop to my knees with gratitude and laughing.
It's a nice change.