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The Dismemberment Journals: Part I

It is a crystal clear morning. The sun has made the flatirons brilliant pink. Glorious clarity of a new day abounds. And I, and the elkhound, are out marveling. Though the larger journey of this dismemberment follows me like an accomplished stalker. Never more than ten feet behind me, my new and unshakable friend, seems a little less present in this moment.

Without warning a fog creeps into the meadow obscuring everything. Trees, just ten feet in front of me are disappeared. Birds stop singing, perhaps they are even swallowed up entirely. The temperature drops ten degrees. Everything turns pale gray. I feel my instinct to run, to find my way out, away.

But for some reason I cannot articulate, I stay. I wonder, is it possible for me to be here, in this place? I notice I’m the only thing clear, here in this fog. I look down at my hand - it is all there is, poised above the thick white abyss. What can I know about myself here? I still feel the urge to run. It’s cold here. And damp. The way it feels when I slog through the marsh of my own tears, so endless in this time. I cannot find the elkhound. He could be sitting just five feet from me and I wouldn’t know. Warm fur covered comfort of his beating heart, so close and so invisible to me.

Just then the fog gets thicker. ‘We’re not done with you yet’ it whispers as its crystalline body glides across my exposed ears. I frantically cover my ears. Please don’t keep me here...

And then, something like a reassurance arrives in me. I realize this moment, cold and foreign, is actually a friend. It is wiser than I am. I lie down in the fresh snow. I look up into the nothing. I feel the fog, like a blanket, cover me over: lay me to rest.

The image of my own funeral comes clearly to mind and I imagine all my beloveds peering over the edge of my burial hole, down at me way down here. There is a red tail hawk soaring over their heads and the elkhound darts between their legs playfully. I fold my arms on my chest and breath deeply. Maybe my last breath. I am paying attention. I am grateful for this life. If it is truly possible to die from a broken heart, then I’m dying. I know I cannot know what is next for me. I trust this Life as it holds me in this fog. I give way to this unbearable not-knowing. ‘Just be here, with us, right now’ whispers the fog.

I close my eyes for the briefest of moments. When I open them the fog has vanished. I am lying in a sun-drenched field at 6:45 am. The birds are dangling in the tall grasses like irreverent gymnasts. The elkhound has miraculously returned, snow piled elegantly, absurdly, on his northern nose.

We do not do this journey alone. And what happens to us matters intrinsically to everything else. I tell myself to remember the feeling of the field’s gentle ageless strength at my back, holding me as her daughter. Remember the cold bottomless wisdom of this cousin, the fog. I make my way to home, the elkhound licking and nipping my fingertips. Even in this dying I am utterly alive.

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