JW says I’m going to follow her fingers
from side to side
as she asks me questions about the trauma.
But first, we need to find a safe space, a place
where I feel calm and relaxed.
I want to get up and leave in that second.
My daughter is dead —
I will never feel
calm and relaxed again
(has she ever done this before?!).
But I am already here, so I play along.
I scroll through my back pages, reviewing chapters and places,
each one more meaningless than the last.
The silence runs me over
as we both wait for my brain to settle
or at least pretend to settle.
I am about to give up
When it finally hits me:
I cannot find a safe place for me
until I imagine one for her.
So where exactly is she? How is she? Who is she with?
What is she eating and what is she wearing (is she warm enough, is she too warm?)
Who is changing her diapers and rocking her to sleep
and does she like the stuffed elephant I gave her?
Does she miss me, does she remember me, can she see me?
Does she know how much I love her?
How thick exactly are these clouds?
Are they a barrier or just a divider?
Dear God, how does this all work?!?!
I almost implode from the antagonism and the unknowing
until through the madness and the fury of my questions
a tiny little voice implores me:
“Just believe that it does.”
The words seem to bounce around my insides for a while,
and gradually I understand.
Tinsley has not “gone somewhere,”
she does not need to be in a “safe place.”
She just simply “is,”
as much as you or I.
I finally swallow the truth in one large chunk–
in all of its uncertainty and faith:
the soul forms before the body, in a form we cannot see
it exists after goodbye, in a form we cannot see
She is protected without my needing to know how.
My lips curl in JW’s direction,
and I tell her I have found my safe place.
“Wonderful, can you describe it to me?” she asks.
“No, I can’t,” I tell her, peacefully.
And then I gather my things,