Letters to the Dead: A Collection of Heartbeats
Alpana Patel Camilli
My dearest child, my angel, my deepest self,
I knew you for a blink of an eye in this long dream of life but I feel that you have always been with me. In the short time you graced our lives I held the purest sense of joy and profound peace in the palm of my hands. As your heart awoke from its ancient slumber and began the song of life, its tempo chased away the darkness and the senseless struggle of my life, bringing forth radiance into my world. Your father and I discovered a sonata long forgotten in our quest to live an extraordinary life of masterpieces. When your pulse joined ours we rediscovered a profundity in our commitment to each other. You showed us that our opus was within our grasp all along. You were our Buddha baby, irrevocably changing us. As your heart played its sonata in my belly, I became enlightened, overwhelmed with a calmness that pervaded my entirety. I rose above the pains of life past and clingy hopes for the future, living only in the moments of the present. While listening to the various tunes of your heart, valuable lessons were revealed to me, reminding me of Lord Krishna revealing the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna on the battlefield or when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount to His loyal flock. The doors of Heaven opened during your concerto and I saw through the gates onto Olympus. Everything, our dreams and goals, overcoming obstacles and destructive emotions became possible within the notes of the beating of your heart. My body became a temple, one that I finally wished to cherish instead of abuse and punish. Your father’s smile at last became a part of mine as the consistent cadence of your pulse reached his heart which was sluggishly beating within the rigid walls he had fervently built during the meandering course of his life. He rose anew, jumping into the concert of your song, playing his lifelong melodies to meet you with a free heart taking fresh clean breaths to keep up with your fast pace.
I sit here on the water’s edge by the lake at your father’s family lake house. It was on this lake that your father, his brother and sister spread your grandmother’s ashes a few years ago and I ask her to watch over you. The dragonflies flitter above my head and the ‘screeeee’ of an eagle soaring across the water captures my heart and it stops for an instant, as yours stopped forever a few weeks ago in my womb. I believe your grandmother now holds you in her arms.
My body slowly changes shape again, its rhythm dwindling as your life blood steadily seeps from me. I have been rendered speechless, unable to ask the whys and how, not wanting to feel the inevitable enormity of your loss. I cannot deny the stillness, the demise of rapid steady beats, your hummingbird heart. Your father has begun to plant trees all over the family land. Each sapling is the throb of your heart he longs to hear, the Birch, White Oak, Maple, Poplar, Spruce and Norway pine. He digs and plants for hours upon hours almost every day, covering the property with baby trees that he wills to survive, urging each sapling to keep breathing, keep beating, to play your song in their branches. Hearing in the distance their future leaves clapping in harmony with your heart’s tune.