Indian summer and the late afternoon. Sun white on the winding path, that smell of summer leaving. Treetops like the rush of soothing river she remembers from a time long past in Colorado by a river and a mountain. Jagged rock and the cold winter melt running off like it is supposed to as the seasons turn one into the next.

They drove to the highest point one early morning instead of taking th highway just for a glimpse of view. She let him drive because the hairpin turns of the heights scared her. At the continental divide, she climbed out to touch summer snow grayed with time and wind.

Today smells like dirt and sweat pressed into skin and children laughing and sun kisses. The trees rustle a symphony, or is it harmony? High school boys run shirtless around the dirt track.

The sister yearns for the brother but he casts her into shadows. “We’re using big words she couldn’t understand,” he tells the mother.

“So explain it to her,” she says. But he runs out of reach to a new friend on the playground whose name he doesn’t even know.

And the next day, the windowless hospital waiting room. Family members pace back and forth and talk about what-ifs and Sudoku puzzles and things they can manage instead of things they cannot.

A Ziploc stuffed full of bagels. The aunt brings candy and grapes and pretzels, but no one eats anything. At 9:30 the mother wants to eat something sustaining but the sandwich counter does not open until 10.

A dearth of emails. No texts. Everyone knows she is waiting for the surgery to end. Everyone knows she is sitting on a highly patterned couch, waiting to hug her sister. Everyone knows she is peripherally beginning a family journey whose outcome she is straining to see on the very distant horizon.

But there is sun there and there is hope. And there is focus and there is love. The night before she called the sister to say, “I didn’t hug you today when I saw you. I love you.”

And the sister said, “That’s ok. You’ll hug me when I wake up from the surgery. I love you too.”

In the morning before the sunrise, the sister called her sleeping house and left a message. Her soothing voice was the perfect wakeup. “I’m sorry I didn’t call you back last night. We’re almost leaving for the hospital. I’ll see you later.”

Always, the promise of next time and tomorrow because there is no possibility for anything different. She understands Carrie Bradshaw in that Sex and the City rerun with the Russian. It’s just not a possibility.


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