You Are My Home
I didn't want to watch but I couldn't look away. I knew you had stopped being afraid a long time ago but I was still terrified for you. This was one time I couldn't come with you, one place I could not follow. I think that may have been the worst part.
Your last breath was soft and easy, and just like that you were gone. What was strange to me was that I knew I was holding your body in my arms and this was how I would always remember you looking, but everything that made you you was gone. It was just an empty body, still warm but extremely void.
I didn't cry, I was past that. What I felt was love more than loss. I knew you had been ready and that was a big comfort to me. A big part of me was relieve to know you weren't hurting or struggling or even just waiting anymore. You had moved on to bigger and better things.
I lay with you for awhile, brushing the hair back from your face and touching your lips with the tips of my fingers. I just wanted to make sure that I didn't forget any detail of you. Not the arch of an eyebrow, the length of a lash, the strength of a bone under your soft skin. I was committing you to memory.
When I was ready, I picked up the beautiful shell of a body you had left behind and wrapped you in blankets. We had picked the spot you had wanted to be buried the summer before and it was close enough that I could carry you and do the whole thing myself. You had made it very apparent that you wanted this to be something just between us two. You didn't want your death to be a production and I had admired you for that.
The ground was wet and heavy with spring. Everything was so fecund and green, I knew you would have thought it was a perfect day. I kissed you once on the mouth and breathed in the clean skin smell of you before I laid you in the ground. You looked so tiny, I couldn't help but cry as I covered you in earth. That was the last time I saw you.
I didn't go back for a long time, I couldn't. I thought about you every day but there was something too definite about a grave. At least this way I could pretend you were just away and not gone. Seasons ebbed and flowed and eventually it was even harder to just imagine you had decided to leave for awhile. I would start thinking that if you had chosen to leave then you could choose to return and you just didn't want to come home to me. It was easier if you had gone without wanting to leave me. I owed it to the both of us to be honest with myself. I at least owed it to you to keep your resting place beautiful and I had shirked my duties for a year too long.
With shovel and shears in hand I marched to the clearing prepared to tackle the over growth that was sure to have occurred. As I approached I was completely stunned. I had known the world would grow in around you, but this? I fell to my knees and wept until the pain of disbelief subsided.
Standing where I had laid you a little over a year ago was a cottage. The walls were smooth and white, growing thick with flowers and wound with black braids of silky threads. It was so delicate and beautiful and I knew before I even ran my hands down the siding that this was you. You had grown here into the most beautiful little house. Your bones had become strong, solid walls. The body that had been your home for so long was now a home for me. It was just like you to want to protect me so much so that you willed yourself to grow into my shelter.
I've never left. It's my dream to die in this house one day, comforted in knowing you are holding me as I held you. Then maybe my bones will grow up and around, into you. Always together, always growing.
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