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Coltrane's Memorial
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A donation was made in Coltrane's memory by Doctors and Staff of the Stuart Animal Hospital. His memorial was created on 7/16/2014.
This morning there is a break in the heavy humid heat of summer. I am even wearing a short sleeve sweatshirt among the vines where we walk. My old black canine companion is keeping to his credo that if you can’t eat it, pee on it. He always stops at this site: the remains of a dog that died in the spring. The first time we happened on this dog’s body there was still some skin and fur clinging to the bones. It was a young animal with very sturdy white teeth. I remember wondering at the time if it had been hunting rabbit and was shot by mistake. It’s the right size for the liver and white spotted, slightly built, swift spaniel breed they hunt with here in southern France. Each time we walk by this dog’s remains I stop to see what bones have been moved. The lower jaw bone is a full meter away from the skull and upper jaw now. There are leg bones and tiny toe bones with claws attached, some vertebrae and the pelvis, in a worn earthen oval area. How many events of animated movement must have scattered the bones this way. The next time I pick up a small bulb-like femur bone or half buried tiny skull I will wonder where the other parts of the animal are.
Do our lives get scattered by events in this way? When we meet someone, or go somewhere and then leave that place, do we leave some of ourselves behind? A joint or finger of significance?
On our walk home doggy always drags; the opposite of a “barn shy” horse, he hesitates going home by dragging his feet. Today we meet the lovely man who tries so hard to connect with me. He speaks no English. He told me early on that he went to school in Germany when he was younger and knew no German. So he knows how hard it is for me to not understand nor be understood. He seems to have a hard time understanding my American accented French. He is an elongated man. He has a long narrow face and long narrow arms and legs you can see in the summertime in shorts and short sleeves. His face is open and his eyes soft. Sometimes I just say “hello” because it appears so painful for him, and for me, to communicate. I can see his sigh as we approach each other, and I feel the same in my chest. His high forehead rises, his eyebrows so expressive that I understand his intent, and I am distracted from the content of his words. I tell him I am leaving France, going back to the United States, when he asks where my car has gone. He wrinkles that forehead of his and asks if France has been good to me, indicating that I can use a thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal. I say, “good”, but difficult for a foreigner. I say things simply, since I only know simple French. I think I will puke if I have to explain one more time to someone why I am leaving France. There is not just one answer to that question. So I tell him that I want to be with my family, my sister. He nods his head sideways toward his heart, exposing his sentiment.
My mother once said that I always seemed to need to be at least 1000 miles away from my family. All of my adult life I have gone to a place I was attracted to and created my life there. When a place presents itself to you, it feels like an exposure, a nakedness, and an opening of the heart. It asks permission to possess you and causes you to feel strong, as if someone has your back. Like the one place in a room that feels like your place of strength, that place is where you belong. For the first time I feel the need to be with family; the pull toward people rather than place. I want my family at my back. The place I am going is the place I grew up, the last place I had family, so maybe the place shares in the pull. As we age, and things threaten to not be there forever anymore, perhaps we grasp for them then.

Now feels similar to when I was planning my departure to come here to France. I looked forward to going to something, not going away from something. The US has taken on some beauty that it didn’t have for me in the past. I came to France to walk in her beauty. She has broken into my body, taken me inside myself, and shown me my vulnerability. She has exposed my bare bones. I wonder what pieces of myself will remain scattered here. I think it will be my heel bone and some tiny bones of the right foot

Debra R.

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