Sunday, October 21, 2012

October 21

Sweep it under the rug, whisk it away. My sister’s echo sailed through the air until all that was left was something converging into the distance ahead of me and I stopped. In that moment, I was relieved that those who had flicked Carolee away like scum were nowhere in sight. I would not yet breath the staleness of family inside that chapel; or sour at their faces grained with disbelief, too soon for regret, also too late. Curt and I stepped inside an office with Carolee’s children, Jason and David. We four were together in the Dean-Lopez Funeral Home. Those other people were not. Carolee’s younger son David, 19, took charge...

During the service, Key West Maggie spoke, her eulogy Carolee’s last wish as she’d known it to be. “Carolee moved in across the street six months ago, and we’d power walk every morning,” she began. “My friend Carolee overflowed with energy and enthusiasm, yet people just took and took from her. And now I am saying there is a conspiracy, and you need to look into her death. Carolee had asked — she wanted you to know.” Maggie stared at my father sitting rows behind … not in front with his motherless grandsons, rather farther back, he defatted, the razoring of her purpose on his phantomed ribs; ribs protruding though a shirt once full-bellied, rounded by the wealth of family. Could he even remember when his despising began, the daughter he’d loved the most, Carolee, her once rubied cheeks suddenly a reckoning like no other?

Then Maggie on the Mount, thin agitated willowy Maggie with sallow skin and faded eyes, honor bound to the end, for the last time to my illustrious Carolee, laying out years of anguish as if a coffin. Brave Maggie, daring to set the record straight. No wonder mourners squirmed in their seats, sniffed as if a pile of shit had been dumped before them.

Our luminous Carolee who’d refused to succumb, had searched and been taken. She’d found out, and then excused it all, wanting her daddy back, the golden father of her childhood. She’d dusted away fingerprints even as she couldn’t define who she was dealing with. Sober, loving daddy, or controlling scheming daddy. No matter that duplicity had altered circulating fluids, his blood re-emerging into a changed chemistry. Mending ways was all she’d cared about even after she’d learned, and known.


Later, fidgeting with our sorrow, some gathered on the wharf for a tribute aboard the Western Union. Even if I hadn’t taken pictures that day, I’d never forget. My version of that evening as others saw — strangers, sunbathers, the local townsfolk, a news reporter, anyone in the streets below who happened to be looking up at the cloudless sky; an entire city and all the paying customers aboard the Western Union, the captain, the crew, all seeing the same thing, vaporous letters spilling from a single engine airplane that if viewed from above spelled CAROL LE.

Carolee orchestrating her own funeral, an event she couldn’t miss, her final good-bye.

I can’t recall who before all others saw the letters forming, the first among us who stared at those billowing vowels and consonants afloat in the horizon. I do not know if anyone heard the drone of an engine overhead, or who cried the first astonished, “Look.” One of the images shows Little Genie squinting under her sunglasses, and pointing to something off in the distance. Jason is sitting behind her, his eyes silhouetted in shadow, a closing coppery sunlight jetting across his brow highlighting the side of his face angled in the direction of Little Genie’s outstretched arm. Frames later, a section of mast against a clear sky, the clearest blue I’d ever seen, and in between the endless horizon and the solid spars, the name of CAROL LE.

No one hired that skywriter; no one scripted that tribute, no single person commissioned him. He was supposed to write the name of a new beverage but instead wrote my sister’s name, claiming he was distracted. “I lost my bearings,” he told a news reporter. We would later learn that his employer, Bacardi Rum, didn’t pay him that night, the night CAROL LE streamed across that Key West sky.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Tribute: Love in the Time of Sisterhood

October 19, 2002 — October 19, 2012

Excerpt from "Three Attention Deficit Sisters and the Mafia"

"... Sophie doesn’t notice our hand-me-down cribs. Instead, she celebrates, the sister she’s longed for up close in a bed. During my first months, her voice crests and ebbs like a singsong of tides, reminding me of another childhood summer. Not only of the sounds of it, but also its textures, where the salt water met the sand feeling like a raw egg that could be skipped over or sunk into, the yolk of our sisterhood carolling in sea foam and froth.

Overlapping waves are where my sister and I first merged, hitting the shore with a melodic surge. We’ve been together as twins, and not, invariably that chattery ocean spray bringing us. Theories of our transposition abound, first Sophie, then me or vise-versa. Any one doubting our coalescence could just ask me about the unborn stars whose flames shone like kerosene lamps along with the surf and symmetry. We’re living proof of that kinship, our luster preceding us, moonglowed from sea swells into dawn, now side-by-side in parallel cribs.

Because Sophie’s first, she can make herself tall. She clutches the hand bar to pull herself up. I unfold from sitting and crawl to my edge. She is above me between the wooden slats, the up-and-down bars of our cribs. My sister is striped and I giggle. We begin a silly peek-a-boo, out popping from behind the railings. Sophie is giddy-faced, squatting, wiggling her toes, then high up, squealing in ecospeak. I grab the strip across the top, and am standing, all of me is upright. I let go, am tottery yet straight enough. ‘Hurrah!’ Sophie says. The mattress underneath me is spongy and my feet are like springs. Sophie is clapping and jumping and we hooray and hooray until I grow dizzy and we are not together anymore...."

Carole, you are so cherished.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Reflecting you

Carole, a decade of loss. Tomorrow, October 19. How to express you, for you and that incomplete energy?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Carolee’s head lowered at the same time she raised the pages closer, her bony knuckles like fists protruding from taut bronze skin. Pinched between her fingers was a legal form, notarized and stamped. I could not yet read it, but felt an eerie quiet that hushed the room, filling it with a stillness that blew back onto itself and movement ceased until she began again, her stare going from the page in front to the top of her eye sockets, above to the ceiling. When her eyes fell, the absorbing returned. She repeated this several times, her mouth twitching, reading silently without talking until seemingly sated, the unspoken words coalesced into a grief that amplified the air into an outrage denser than the breath she’d let go of, turning the next heave and all that followed into fury even before a sound left her mouth. Silence can do this, be alive and dying at the same time.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Chutzpah, cheers to us!

Carole, we are doing it ... took another line from your story, embellished it, keep adding your thoughts, you there telling me ... Most often, I wish you'd speak with more clarity.

Something I won't say yet ... a friend encouraged, saying: DO YOU WANT TO DIE WONDERING???????

Love, H