To Do

It is a shock when the call comes through that your long-time friend has been in a freak accident. The details are shards that come over the phone line in pieces.

Something about a truck rolling toward a stream and your friend, somehow, trying to stop it. That he got caught beneath it. The jogging shorts that he was wearing, one thin layer, buffering him from death.

He’s speaking with surprising lucidity through hospital narcotics which only blur the pain of a 70-year-old pelvis broken in six places.

“My iPhone was in my pocket and it was shattered.”

He’ll be going in to surgery soon but still has pending business on his mind. Scattered clipboards of To Do’s that he was going to organize tomorrow. Could you help?

You agree, send love, end the call.

You happen to be next door to the Buddhist stupa. Prayer wheels lined for spinning, statues of goddesses, hands outstretched. And you place fresh gardenias in their palms. Sunlight reflects on white marble. A distant rooster crows. You walk around three times, spinning, wishing, loving, feeling.

Then business.

His office is a snapshot. A flurry frozen. Insurance paperwork on the desk, ready for renewal. Three bills put to the side for payment. His laptop’s To Do list reminding to take the garbage to the curb on Friday.

These are all the things that were important. Manilla folders labeled “Action” did not know the future. The room is a time capsule of ordinariness before monumental change.

To Do lists are now left to be re-prioritized.

You stack paperwork and file folders. Put the checkbooks away. Turn out the lights and lock the office door behind you.

What’s left when you escape death by threads?

As you walk to your car you notice the kumquat tree is fruiting. Small, round and orange, the balls have fallen to the grass, contrasting brightly in the green.

You have no answers. Only awe and this little jostling. A different kind of reminder. Quiet and mysterious. Gently urging.

There’s more.

~ for Steven

photo courtesy of Rory Finneren
photo courtesy of Rory Finneren

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