The milieu of my afterlife will be summer dusk in Loveland, Colorado. Never ending will be the tender lift of wind moving across the silent, waiting plains, the dry air hugging me close in like a cocoon. Grasses burnt and thirsty crunch underfoot, earth still warm from the day’s heat collected; I can see the wavy lines of parchedness radiating up from the ground. Little prickles and scrapes on my ankles and the bottoms of my feet cause me to run from the scratchy field to the fresh-mown lawn of my best friend’s house where my toes find relief in the sprinkled coolness. The horizon’s light fades purple to periwinkle as its dramatic curtain falls over the foothills. The Flatirons directly west seem close enough for me to reach out and feel their roughness.
I hear my mother’s voice calling me home, a faint echo through Paradise Acres. The repetitive sound “Marie, Marie” is gentle and soothing, yet it does not lure me home in the afterlife. In the afterlife, I continue doing cartwheels on Pam Miller’s lawn, giggling as the portend of darkness teases us and the wind washes us. This is our bath time. Our waif-thin bodies reveling in freedom and joy, we feverishly collect laughter in little pockets of our souls knowing, somehow, to hoard this laughter, to open our arms and gather it up, running in circles until breathless as if catching elusive butterflies.
We mean this chase. More than anything, ever, we mean it. Our one small eternity hinges on it.
For somehow we know it is this moment that will carry us through the rough and sullen days that await us in adulthood. This moment will keep us afloat through the things about life we cannot even imagine. The things that break, that are stolen, and what we will do on purpose, fully cognizant of the pain we cause others. This is the worst brokenness: shame, fallenness, the fault at our own feet.
But here in this summer dusk, the idyllic memory gets carved into our bones; it becomes part of the circulation of cells, a given, a picture, a fixed element that can never be taken— our secret reverie. The dry Colorado air will forever bless our lungs: the most perfect, majestic air to breathe before being uprooted and thrown into the jarring din and danger of life.
Stay in this moment, Marie. Keep it, hide it, cherish—for it epitomizes good, this never-ending summer dusk in Loveland, Colorado. Possess it with a white-knuckled vise grip until you come back to tumble in its refreshment, until the afterlife dawns when all is complete and you are finally invited to be one-hundred-percent good. What joy awaits you! Remember this giggling fit, your demure refusal to march home, your arms waving, smiles, this happy love…and never again be afraid to die. For you will win out.
You will win out.