At Her Bedside
She would not last long, I thought, frail as she was, lying there
with her eyes filling. She said, they are telling me that the only way to get off
is to step off. She made circles with her hand while she lay in the bed, as
white as the sheets she lay on. The circles she made in the air, went round and
round and I watched her and then found the courage to ask who ’they’ were.
And she looked surprised at me as if the question was not even necessary for
me especially. She said the Teacher, the Teachers. They are telling me that
I can get off and another time I will get back on and one would suppose
a roller coaster but this of course was our Earth she talked of.
And I know why now, she said, why my mother could not come back to get me
when she said she would. She left me at Father Baker’s Orphanage and the
Sisters would not let her back because she coughed with consumption.
We often heard of the Sisters at the orphanage who wore black habits lined
with white and they looked like birds with black wings. We heard how the
five year old was so frightened that she could not speak. She told us how
her mother was going to come for her as she promised and I know now she said,
she would have but I always thought she did not want me. And that was why she
left me. And my mother, now withered in age, but calmly smiling the child’s smile,
knew that she was loved. Never knowing a mother’s love, she did not know
how to give a mother’s love to the children she bore. Never knowing a mother’s
love, I gave to mine what I sorely missed. The circle closes.
They say, she went on, the Teachers talk of things I do not know and I know I
cannot believe as you do and I told her that there was room and time for all of us.
We had never talked of the road I traveled nor the scythe I worked of rusty vintage.
There was never a place of rest for either of us to talk of Spirit or worlds that
circled mine or even the only one she recognized. Now I am as old as she was then
and holding me upright are teachings I broke open the gates of heaven for because
of a Need To Know. I carried my burden to her bedside and I affirmed for her what
the Teachers already did. And she was my affirmation. She never knew me and she
wept. She never knew the head I carried on shoulders folding under the weight of a
soul I bartered for knowledge. She will one day remember a someone whom she knew
who queried the heavens as she will grow to do. She will also storm the heavens if
need be because of a someone she knew who had nowhere else to go.
Art by Claudia Hallissey