January 7th, 1955—They used to play a game.  They made it a song.  While David took his bath.  William would blow bubbles.  He would carefully gather them up from the soap suds of David’s bathwater and from the palm of his hand blow them softly with his breath above David’s head as he laughed and splashed in the water.  It was William that taught him to count.  They would count the bubbles as they popped.  David laughing with pleasure at each one, each bubble as it disappeared, a suspension of film residue, like a hope answered in contrivances—life-like—floating in the air.  But they never counted past four and then they would start again.  William knew the numbers beyond this, but he always stopped at four, and so David did.  And now I wonder if there was magic to it, some meaning, some mystery.  It was almost like they were keeping a beat, a time signature, common time, accenting every other bubble, and sometimes they departed from this, enlisting a sort of syncopation.  Sometimes there was even a prelude to their counting, a pickup note that David though a toddler followed in their play.  And so it was William, it was William that initiated David into the timing of music.

So maybe that’s it.  I just have to let some time go by.  I just have to count.  Because I always knew he would die.  I knew Duke would die.  Die before me.  But I never thought I’d be alone because I had William.  I had the company of an angel…  And I suppose I should laugh.  I should remember to laugh just as I did when I had him growing in my belly.  I should remember the time in between times.  How one mistake leads to another—surely—but then how it all comes back around and that first mistake is fixed.  It’s fixed in the resolution of something new.  Something new is always the surprise of something old.  That I know from many years of living, but it never gets softer.  It’s always just as hard.  As hard as the first time.  You just have more of the past to go by, and yes, sometimes it makes it easier—a short learning curve—but even then you wonder why you’re doing it again.  Why you have to do it again, and if it was hard to learn the first time it doesn’t make it any easier to have those memories to teach you.  Sometimes you wish you had a fresh teacher.  Someone easy on the eyes and caressing to your ears.  Someone that makes even death new…  I will miss my husband, but I will miss my child more—for selfish reasons.  For the reasons of fear.  Not loneliness.  Not the fear of being alone, but being alone with my fears.  There’s a distinction few rarely recognize.  You think being alone makes you afraid, but it’s your fear that makes you alone.  At least that’s what my memories teach me.  On a long learning curve that doesn’t make it any easier.  It’s still just as hard as the first time.  The environment which always finds us that inspires the bodily reaction.  Like being near a toilet makes you want to go.  Like hearing the sound of running water.  Louder depending on how fast you talk.  You think it’s always new, but it’s not.  When you’re put to the test to see what you’ve learned.  And it’s not the specifics.  Some mnemonic you need to recall.  Some flat statistical answer.  It’s not a method or routine you need to remember.  Not some motor memory.  No password to recall.  It’s the process—what goes through your mind as you’re put to the test to see what you’ve learned.  What you learned about how you felt learning it.  And if you feel all alone when you’re put to such tests you haven’t learned anything at all.  Because it’s not about giving the right answer.  It’s how you give it.  Right or wrong is always a matter of perspective complicit even with math.  With confidence intervals.  The trick maybe being self-deprecating.  Self-deprecating to whoever or whatever is testing you.  Sometimes saying you’re stupid is not acting stupid.  It’s like a pressure valve.  An escape and an involvement with the situation and not the test in the situation.  Because the tests never stop.  Not even the day you die…  So maybe that’s it.  What I have to learn from him—William—how talking to him was like talking to an angel.  Because he talked slow.  He knew the difference between saying he was stupid and acting stupid.  How bringing it all out in the open is the best and only way to make the fear disappear in that dance embrace. How in a sense losing control is the best way to gain it. He knew how to count.  And not a count to ten for urgency or anger.  But a count to four sometimes three in waltz time—his dance with fear, his sound check.  Because you see that’s what he made it—a dance partner—he made it music…  I don’t think he ever felt alone a day in his life.  Even though others tried to make him different—special if said nicely, as courtesy, or defective in their complaints caught by the public.  No, William was never alone, and that’s how I think he made even death new and an old friend.  How being alone never scared him.  He was my teacher just as he was David’s in the awareness of timing.  He was never a mistake though some folks like to see it that way, and he went about fixing it.  Fixing that resolution people make every new year with the problems that bother them—the mistakes they made on some test.  In a way he intrinsically knew the mystery, which is why I’ll miss him, miss him more than my husband even though that grief carries more years more memories some good and some bad—he knew the count doesn’t end because you can always keep counting—it’s because it’s repetitive like death is repetitive and inherent in any regeneration.  It doesn’t just happen once—you don’t stop just once.  And you always start over.  You always start with one.  Even in your imagination, in that music you hear in your head.  In all preludes to silence.  He knew and he taught that to David.  He knew that’s how every song goes…

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