Cold Foot

Melody died. Melody was my godmother, and my mother’s best friend. I didn’t know much about religion or godmothers. My understanding was she would take care of me if my parents died; she was my alternate dimension fantasy mother. But she died. Cancer. First her hair got short. Her fiancé called off the wedding. And then we left. We went to live in Germany…when our friend was dying. There were no cell phones, no face-to-face meetings by machine. Just letters, phone calls across different time zones. Sometimes we would exchange cassette tapes in the mail. The last time we talked I told her, from Nuremberg, that I’d see her soon. And she went quiet. The way adults do when kids say something wrong. Or when you broach something that’s too tricky to explain. I think she was crying, quietly on the other end of the line. And I wished I hadn’t been so clumsy with my words. I knew she was dead when my father turned up unannounced in the middle of a holiday; my brother, mother and I were visiting some quaint little mountain town. My father stayed behind to work. But then he was there. He nearly ran us down, almost drove onto the sidewalk, leapt from the car, and pulled us into a four-person hug, a family huddle. I guess even emotionally distant families can have these movie moments. That night, my older brother and I had to share a twin bed to accommodate my unexpected father in the hotel room. We slept with our heads at opposite ends. His really cold foot brushed me in the night, as I lay awake, trying to wrap my head around this new Melody-less world. It was an accident: the foot touch. My brother didn’t touch me any more. He didn’t hold my hand crossing the street, or anywhere else. He didn’t seek out my company, or my opinion. We stopped sharing a world. This cold foot: it felt like grief. I finally fell asleep, and woke up in the morning feeling OK at first, then immediately anxious; there was something I was forgetting. And then I remembered: Melody’s dead. And every morning was like that, for ages. The worst part of loss, I think, is waking up to it: how it rises to greet you, everyday, like a sun.

Published by msdeer

I am an interdisciplinary artist, slightly incognito here.

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