Shamelessly I have chased the athanasia of the ones I love. I paint them on paper in impossible hues, determined that the glory of their incarnation will render them unforgettable. Inevitably, though, I am forced again and again to the grave. No stories, no pictures, are ever enough to hold them.
I sat in sunlight that could not warm me, dreading the goodbye that I must whisper to Jeannie, lying already lifeless in a hospital bed, her chest wrenched up and down by a respirator in a horrible rhythm that pretended at breathing. A whirring passed by my head, a flutter of vivid, gem-colored wings, a fury of life. Here, on the prairie, where no hummingbirds ever ventured, danced this tiny beastie.
Perhaps it was blown out of its path. Perhaps it a figment of my imagination. Or perhaps it was Jeannie, persisting in life and beauty and all the mad, irrepressible pluck of the hummingbird, promising me that her story was not done. I will tell this as if it were true. I will sing the song of the hummingbird and claim it for Jeannie, and this hope, this longing, for the deathless spirit, will not fall back unanswered.
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