And it's not for the holy water
|I remember the last time I held each of their hands. I’d like to say it was at my graduation or at my wedding, but it wasn’t. No, it was at church. That was the last time Renée took them. That was the last time Renée took both of our hands. I don’t remember the day at all, it could have been sunny or pouring rain, but nonetheless the memory still remained after the decades passed.. But what’s funny is I don’t even remember where the church is, or what it even looks like. Whether it had Baroque or Victorian style architecture, I will never remember. My memory is a trick; it has a real sense of humor, trying to rob me of happy memories. But, I still remember holding hands with my brother and Renée. The stained glass bled through the windows. It was indeed a beautiful place.
The pastor, portly as he was, seemed to be humming. His words carried no meaning, even as a child I knew I was agnostic. I loved church though; I loved it because of them. I loved church because of the people. There were so many to choose from, so many of us gathered in one place. No two people were the same here, everyone holding a different experience in the way the talked and the way they stood in the pews. It was something magical. Words can only try to describe this magic. This magic is why I really go to church. Not to save myself, not for any other reason. Just to hold their hands. Pure magic. To remember what being a child was like. My brother would reach over and grab my childish palm and smile. Not even during prayer either. Renée would then grab mine, connecting all three of us, underneath this house of God. Not even praying. And we would stay like this for the entire mass, smiling, radiating.
Mother Mary grinning a Mona Lisa smile. Jesus waving at us. Paul and the apostles swimming in the sea of patterned glass on the wall. The sound of a ukulele outside. Maybe God laughing. But not at us. Only at the person playing the ukulele outside of a church. This is why I really go to church. Because even God laughs.
As we stand here, I do not realize that this was the last time I would hold my brother’s hand, and the last time Renée would hold mine. And yet, this is the first time I have thought of this, this memory enduring through all these years past. How peculiar that I pick this time to remember them. So funny how memories work. It’s by this one that I measure my life. Not by chips on the shoulder or broken promises or enemies. I’d like to think of my life as a picture of us holding hands. That I’d like to picture myself in that church. I remember why I really go to church…
She put down the pen and retired the yellowish notepad to the desk drawer. She moved the chair ever so slightly to the side and draped her sweater over the head of the chair. She could hear little footsteps rumbling up and down the stairs. He must be home too. The lasagna was still in the oven. The birds outside were humming like chubby little priests singing their afternoon psalms. Cars rolled by crunching the gravel as they passed. The neighbor’s kids played in the yard across the way. She glanced back at the old antique desk when she clutched the door knob. The photo of him was still smiling, like he always did. Remaining the same. Perhaps the only immortal thing existing on this earth spinning at six-hundred miles an hour. A smile people carried in their pockets. She turned the door knob and walked out.
And the laughter carried all the way down the stairs—past the door—around the block—up and down the rolling hills of town—and to places that even she didn’t know. How funny life had turned out. She remembered all the memories, every last one. She sometimes likes to dust it off and revisit it like an old record. After twenty-five years spinning on this planet, she still dusted off that old memory. Memories are the only thing worth holding on to. So, if you say goodbye, so will I.
You say it first.
It’s not so easy you know.
It’s like… learning to walk all over again.
It’s strange isn’t it?
No one ever tells you that it’s like this, that it’s so hard. It’s so lonely and painful. Every day.
Just try it.
If you walk away, I’ll walk away too.
Okay, I’ll take the first step.
Into this new world… somewhere I’ve never been.
Don’t look back.
I’m walking away.
One step at a time,
With my hands in my pocket