You broke the silence to say, “You’re going to take care of me, right?”
I’m just a couple of miles in on the track when I get the text message from Chase. “Ummm, did you just try to charge $1,940.39 online to Best Buy?” Yikes. And that was that for today’s outing. Hours of panic and calls and changing account numbers and remembering the world isn’t such a safe place to live these days. But it’s just as well. I’m feeling haunted.
I just read it yesterday. I’ve had moments of profound sadness in my life. Holding Ma’s hand for the last time. Saying goodbye to Austin. Embracing Mo as she sobbed uncontrollably for Sarah. But this may have been the worst.
I had no idea. The problem with being a recluse is you never talk to people. You don’t know what they’re thinking, what they’re experiencing. You compose stories in your head for people’s lives, not giving much thought as to whether they’re biography or fiction. And then one day, you learn the truth.
I guess it’s not so far removed from what I always imagined; it’s just so much sadder to see it told so eloquently, so honestly, so painfully. The blank pages were filled in, the puzzle pieces assembled. In the season of Hallmark Christmas movies, it’s a reminder that life isn’t like that. Life is real.
I’m not back on the trail, because the trail I’m frantic for doesn’t exist anymore.
I was never part of helping her find that trail. I could have been, but life has a way of getting you lost. Months become years, years become decades, decades become lifetimes. And then here we are.
I read it a hundred times, missed a couple deadlines, wiped away a few tears, and then. Mostly I’m numb. I don’t know what to say, what to do.
Are you still here, somewhere? Where?
The two of us struggle with the same horrible riddle, one that has no answer. I want to help, but I am helpless. I am in my own forest, equally lost.
Maybe her new start is for the best. New state, new family, new life. No Luckenbach moon to make her remember. No Marfa lights to reopen the wounds. Different isn’t always better, my old boss once said, but better is always different. Life isn’t a Hallmark movie.
What you thought was your trail isn’t there anymore. It’s gone. Don’t look for it, the same way you wouldn’t look for the dream you had last night. You are a human moving over the earth. This stretch of land will work the same as any other.
Mo and I will hang on to her spot in the desert. We’ll find a new trail. We will keep a candle burning for her. I will do better. I must. I probably won’t.
“Of course I’ll take care of you,” I said. “Okay.” That was all. We kept walking.
So wise. So painful. Sometimes walking is all you can do …