It's the stuff of movies, of novels, of fiction. It is a thing you never think will actually happen -- that thing so cliched that its reality stuns you with the force of a lightening bolt.
When she knew she was dying, she wrote me a letter.
Pen on paper.
And she left it for me.
A woman knew she was dying, and she wrote the things she wanted me to know. The last things she would say to me. The last thing I would hear. If there are ever words you should heed, they are these.
I have been thinking about this letter lately, because I'm at a bit of a crossroads. There are things I want to create. To write. To photograph. Things I want my life to be. The way I want to spend my days.
And there is the lonely, cold way that they are.
And I wonder, sometimes, if I pulled this scribbled letter out, whether it would lift me or crush me.
In my mind, I see the page. I see her always terrible, yet now lazy handwriting. The effort she put into pushing the pen onto that notepad. She left her last words on pretentious paper. So typical. So perfect. I know where I keep it.
In a brown paper envelope, it sits among a funeral notice and photographs I can't bear to look at, because maybe almost four years later I am still not whole again.
But maybe each death will leave us less whole. Each birth replenish us.
My niece will be born in three months, god willing. And I have never anticipated anyone as much.
I anticipate my own family. Lover. Husband. Children. But for now, baby niece, sweet soon-to-be Diana, rules the universe of us all. The first of our next generation. As the first of the last generation, I hope to help her on. And am glad for my own daughters that they won't bear that burden. Perhaps being the first, I chose my hesitation.
For maybe half a day I resented my younger sister marrying first. And since that day, I have gladly taken my place among the "not in front."
I have had enough standing out. Next Friday I will see her in a 3-D ultrasound image for the first time. And I'm quite excited.
The turn of this post I confess is unanticipated.
I watched a show that made me think about Phatiwe's letter. But instead, I turned towards a tangible and coming future. I meant to talk about last words, but instead found first words...