A Nurse, Mother, Friend, Empath: R.I.P

for friend Barbara, her loss, as she could say it

City Guide: Portland, Oregon | Go Next

I am pulling out soot-covered
memories, fires in the hills
reminder of Portlander:
Candee was her name
lost for one month in care
gone in half a day hospice
I had forgotten utility trailer
lifetime of my things, photos,  lives

she had more lucid
memories of me
than my own record
understood my traumas
exuded the empathic ways
advised me, even knew which judge to hear
my case, touching my thoughts
when I barely touched people
in fading photographs

if I had only known Candee
had been stuck
to terminal IV’s, shuttered to death
bed, I would’ve jumped in
car, hit the road for Seattle:
Is this an act of aging,
maybe 71 is young, still
we live our lives disconnected
are these the lessons . . . connectivity?

people pass, unknown to me
yet my instinct during this month’s
beaver moon told me something
was wrong with Candee, but
drowned out by, what,
empirical hijacking of our times
my drowning under drone of
Trump, elections, global chaos?

A while back, Candee had a home for unwed
mothers, took them in:
my question is, do these women and their kids
know this angel is dead?

life is a passing iceberg –
dramatic, sometimes picturesque
then we move on, a split glacier.
I admit I telephoned her
land line, old school Candee
no interest in Facebook, then Monday
gruff son answers her phone,
my question:
Where’s Candee . . .
she’s dead . . .
Quit joking Trevor, I’d like to speak . . . to . . .
she’s dead . . . .

a confidant for three
decades, now fire-blasted minerals
inside a urn
dumped into Puget Sound
no dances, no dirge, no songs of
Candee’s life . . . this is remittance
for aging, disjointed lives
generations in this cold land
ready to cart off a life
to Goodwill,
hurried cremains ceremony
like flicking ashes from a Havana
cigar into the wind?

Memorializing, singing, breaking
bread, recalling, tributaries
to one’s life, all those connected
to her web, my friend, once unbroken chain
now delinked, this northern
wind in my bones
hard felt now, dislocation
of hip, of my
humility, humanity

another passing
Candee, apprehender
of my mental state,
dredger of emotions
she is beyond
a beyond, one less
conjurer of ancient rules
gone to her tribe
of shamanistic women
she, sorcerer of my heart, my thoughts
tip of my tongue
no longer Candee’s, there
here, finishing my sentences,
knowing my thoughts.

PHOTOS: Spreading the ashes of a man who was homeless in Salem

Paul Haeder's new bio is about suspending all those credentials, all those titles, all those in-the-trench experiences he's acquired and worked hard on in his 64 years (2021): Novelist, essayist, journalist, social worker, college and K12 educator, environmental warrior. Terms and avocations more meaningless as cancel culture rises and rises from left and right insanity. Paul's book, Reimagining Sanity: Voices Beyond the Echo Chamber (2016), looks at 10 years (now going on 16 years) of his writing at Dissident Voice. Read his musings at LA Progressive. Read his short story collection, Wide Open Eyes: Surfacing from Vietnam now out, published by Cirque Journal. Read other articles by Paul, or visit Paul's website.