Passing On

About a year before it happened, when we were talking about his memoir,
he told me he was “feeling a little more Lutheran these days,”
and I knew what he meant – I was feeling that way, too, these days.
I wonder if he felt that even more right before it happened or as it happened?
Did he wake up that morning, go through his ritual exercise routine,
then say to himself, “I feel great today, time for some toast and coffee,”
or did he say, “Jesus, I don’t feel good, today, I wonder what’s the matter?”

About a year before it happened, he emailed me a comprehensive list
of the series of exercises he did every morning, had done so
all his life, it seemed, reminiscent of Gatsby, one of our mutual favorites.

Email – he used email and the web – although I’m not sure if he preferred
the digital way over pen and paper or his trusty typewriter.
He was a touch typist, I knew, but you can type perfectly on a computer, too,
so maybe that was some compensation for all that electronic progress stuff.
And indeed, he was always online when I would send him a message, quick to reply,
and I could expect regularly receiving links to articles of interest,
particularly about Dylan – Bob, not Thomas — another mutual favorite.
He didn’t want to figure out how to get his pieces up on the Bamboo Ridge website,
so I would always do that for him, gladly posting his writing right up until it happened.

In that message he encouraged me to try those exercises, explained how to do each one.
I gave it a go, but it was too many for me, Jim, and I’d howl a little howl,
each time something in me would go POP, and I’d wonder if I’d hurt myself.

Hurt.
Did it hurt for him, I wonder?
Did he feel pain, feel it coming on at all?
Or was it too fast for him to say,
My God, or Damn! or Shit! or Why?
it happening too quickly?
So fast that those words were left for us, alone,
to say when we heard about it happening.

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