She left me her diaries.
She had taken off alone for her usual yearly trip home. She had given me the keys to her little house and told me to make myself comfy - after warning me not to mess up the order in her formidable music collection. I should have known something was afoot when she packed her small photo album with the old black and white pictures, and when she turned to give me that quiet, intent look as she left, but all I could think about was having my friends over to drool over her artwork and hang out by her pool.
We got the news two weeks later that she had disappeared, leaving word that she was going on a quest and that it was unlikely she would be coming back. She had left detailed instructions with her lawyers here about how she wanted her worldly goods disposed of: her music, her jewelry, her art.
It has been six months now, and today I was finally able to bring myself to read her words, sitting with her gabi wrapped around me in the armchair where she always sat. I randomly opened one book; it was the entry for 5 March 2000.
I am poised between here and there, between these people and those, between that life and this one -- on the knife's edge between content existence here, poignant and fleeting happiness there. Unable to choose, I teeter on that sharp boundary, lacerating my feet as I look for a safe landing place...a soft resting spot.
I don't always hate it up here where I find myself today. The air is clearer up here. The view is sublime. Balanced as I am, I can peek from side to side, a quiet spectator worthy of a golf tournament, keeping score and taking notes. I learn many lessons up here.
Agile as a gymnast, at times I love skipping along that familiar divide, stopping to lean far, far down on one side as though a choice had finally been made...as though my solitary sojourn was finally coming to an end - but I'm not ready to let go, not yet. Often I am absurdly giddy, dancing and pirouetting up and down that demarcation, joyful not to have to be split into two...whirling free to do as I wish, unencumbered by expectations, exhortations, the cacophony of discordant demanding voices. Fearless.
Other times, my soul is weighed down unbearably, and the merciless silet itself begins to look like a welcome end to all this searching. After all, weren't the most valiant warriors those who fell on their swords rather than surrender? Then again, there are those moments when, suddenly, insistent hands grab onto me, pulling me with all their might to one side...their side...the right side. And there I would be, kicking and screaming as the sweet smooth caress of the blade slices off with remarkable ease the top layer of my well-armored skin -- shivering, quivering, vulnerable flesh exposed beneath...a lifetime of protection gone in one swish. But then a stubborn scar from battles past, toughened over time into a ridge of resistance, halts my descent, catching me just in time before I go over completely. In time, little remains of such struggles but a new coat of armor...a tougher ridge of resistance...and me up here again.
Moments of weakness sometimes assail me, when sheer fatigue and the need to belong somewhere conspire to tip me over the line, and I jump blindly...only to be caught before I touch blessed ground by vigilant hands that put me back where I belong. Up here.
SiletEn teQebeluN. Listen to my soul and make these prayers come true. Ease me off this edge and help me soar up to that place where two halves make a whole, and where the line that divides is no more than a wisp, barely visible.
Until I find the wings to fly, I'll be up here, arms open wide to keep my balance, eyes to the sky and face raised to the sun up here. No regrets - I'm learning some lessons, up here. On a clear day, when I have the courage to glance along the thin straight frontier, far away I see other feet on that glinting rim, other arms spread out in echo. Could it be that there are others out there, up here? Tega belu'sa. Siletun inkach'u.
I remember her telling me about those years, when she was constantly searching for deeper meaning in her life - she had written this part of her diary then. I remember sitting in her lap as she told me her tales of places and people who had crossed her path - and the twinkle in her eye when she spoke of those special ones she called "Yeleyelachew." I remember her describing exactly when she realized that searching meant she had to stop running and start living - she always looked at me then and kissed me on the forehead with great tenderness when she said that. I remember her showing me the place on the globe that she called home, where she knew some day her journey would end.
In her final instructions, she had asked that four embroidered velvet umbrellas be delivered in her name to the Medhane-Alem bEte'skyan up around where she had grown up.
I believe she finally found those wings.