I Don’t Know At All If I Can

The card came in the mail yesterday.
A sympathy card.
From her.
One of my favorite cousins.
Expressing her sympathy
For me, and my family,
With the passing of my Mother.

It was a beautiful gesture.
Totally unexpected.
There was a picture inside.
Of her and her spouse.
Never met him.
But he looked OK
In the picture.

I found myself looking
Up at God.
“She better be happy with him.
He better be taking care of her.
He better not be
Like that first guy was.
You got that, Lord.
She deserves to be happy.”

And then I saw
The handwritten words
Addressed just to me.

“It has been a long time.
If you can give your cousin a call.”
And then she wrote her number down.

And I don’t have a clue at all
What to do.
Not one clue.

I hear so many voices
They could fill the Roman Coliseum,
Screaming at me,
“Pick up the phone,
You ding-bat!
Give her a call!”

And I want to.
Oh, God,
Do I want to.

But…

How?
What do I say?
How do I say it?
Whatever it is?

I called a friend in February
Of 2011.
Wound up calling her a lot.
She was wounded.
And lonely.
And so very ill.

I’d call her up,
And I’d listen to her voice.
I’d listen for as long
As she wished to talk.
And I’d almost never say a word
Myself.

People just don’t realize
How hard it is
For me to talk.
They just don’t know at all.

Hell,
I’ve known my lady 35 years.
And there are still times
I just can’t say a thing.
Times no words come out.
When I talk with her.

It’s another way I’m wired
A little differently.

I remember meeting Deb.
Face to face on Mother’s Day
In 2001.

The only time I’ve seen her
In real life.
I’ve seen her picture many times.
But we’ve only met
That one time.

You know what she said to me
When she got home
From the trip her and Scott were on?

“I was sitting right there,
At the table.
Just across from you.
And you didn’t say a word.
You didn’t say anything.
Anything at all.”

She told me how disappointed
She had been.
That I hadn’t spoken with her.
Hadn’t talked.
And she was right there.
Right there.
She could have held my hand.
We could have shared stories.
We could have talked.
Like people talk.
Like friends.

And I sat there.
Damn near silent.

I would have loved to talk with her.
Tell her how beautiful she was.
Tell her how the pictures I’d seen
Were pale imitations of her.

Tell her stories of the kids.
Listen to stories of her kids.

And I couldn’t.
I couldn’t find the words.
I couldn’t find a way.
I couldn’t.

I just sat there.
And listened.

And now,
My cousin has asked me
To give her a call.

And oh, how much I want to.
You will never know.
You will never understand.

And I don’t know at all
If I can.

I don’t know at all
If I can.

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