death is welcome here

today I attended a funeral
for someone who walked
right up to her diagnosis
and hugged it
like an old friend.

It was she who planned
all the arrangements
down to the verse
on the card everyone held
in fidgeting hands.
When we stared
into our laps it was as if
we were reading
her own words,
which were punctuated
by her booming laugh
that was as healing
as any church organ.

I don’t have many stories,
only bits of encouragement
she scattered across my life.
“If you’re spending
that much time cleaning
you’re not living right.”
“You remind me of a young
[journalist I regrettably
forget the name of].”

I never quite understood
someone who loved
so fierce from far away
and tried to stop myself
from being envious of those
who saw it up close.

But if she taught me
anything it’s that
people like her are
everywhere if we listen.
They’re the ones who
keep daring us to dream
when everything is broken.

“Talk to me, I’ll listen,”
she scribbled into the
last letter to her sister.
Her cursive curled
around my eyes
and kissed them.

You see, it’s a gift
to catch the end on
the horizon. You get
to say goodbye
in every tongue you’ve
ever known.