requiem for elizabeth webster – my bird with peter pan eyes.

Her cards to me in our boo radley box #1; photographed by pan ellington.

These are the pages I’ll surround myself with, pinned up on the walls as the world burns down all around me…

“when my time comes around / lay me gently in the cold, dark earth, / no grave can hold my body down / i’ll crawl home to her…”

I’ve found myself living the end of Our story as it falls away, the beginning of another coalescing before my eyes and in my mind as it manifests itself in the narrative of the day to day, though this is the denouement I never wanted or expected.

I’m left with too many threads to make sense of — looking back now, though, the forest now clear through Her trees, the signs were all there, ghosts shouting prophecies it’s now clear I was not not yet ready to hear. I knew it was serious. Like my own shit is serious. Parents do numbers on their children every day and then act like it’s nothing. Still, though. I never thought I’d wake up from my doze on the couch at the House after work one unremarkable Saturday morning at three a.m. to find Our lives as We knew them broken and done for twenty minutes later…

first date — rudy’s can’t fail cafe, oakland, ca; 16 december 2016 // photographed by pan ellington.

“and I was burnin’ up a fever / I didn’t care much how long I lived / 
but I swear I thought I dreamed her / she never asked me once about the wrong i did…”

She’d had a Doctor’s appointment Thursday morning, they’d changed up some of Her scripts, easing off of one and onto another. Woozy on Her feet, it happened the last time there was this sort of change, so I chalked it up to that. I’d only find Her stash of Klonopin later, in the coming weeks…

Awoke from the couch, MSNBC still streaming on the console. Tossed off our beautiful, new, blue blanket and strolled to the bathroom. Lights blazing in the bedroom, the covers still over the bed, I find Her between Her side of the bed and the wall. I try in vain to shake Her awake, spray her with water from the brass mister she’d bought for my Houseplants as one last try before I call 911…

The Operator tells me to get her on Her on Her back to do CPR. The Operator doesn’t know She’s double my weight and that I can only do so much. She’s heavy and the space is cramped.

“I need you to help Her.”

And then I hear them coming down the hallway and I let them in and they’re asking me questions and then by 3:20 a.m. the whole thing is over. He tells me he doesn’t know how to tell me this, but She’s gone, as a plethora of paramedic/cop bros traipse through our house…

He tells me the Coroner is changing shifts so a Police Officer will have to wait with me until the morning crew gets on, my dead partner just lying there in our bedroom, still between wedged between Her bedside and the wall. I turn the news on and sit with the cop in my living room in silence, watching the days’ developments.

at the house of ellington, october 2017; photographed by pan ellington.

It still doesn’t feel real, though I know that it is. It’s almost as if I’ll hear the lock turn this evening around seven or so, Edgar’s gaze having been focused longingly at the door for the last hour and a half. Almost as if because She hasn’t been back for thirty-seven days now and Edgar stopped looking after I showed him the spot where She died in Our bedroom. The look of recognition on his face, understanding Her Death, is something I won’t ever forget…

“I need to take my dog out to pee.”

“Okay. I have to come with you.”

The peak of orange sun rises above the Pacific Coast Ridge as Edgar takes his morning pee. Then the Coroner’s van pulls up…

It was the One Thing we fought over, a couple of glasses always seemed fine to me — it was just when she went beyond that to the third, which lead inevitably to the whole bottle, the difference between a nice, mellow, buzz and total fuckedupedness…

I hear the down putter of the engine before Deputy Golden steps down from the van with her partner, shakes my hand, offers her condolences, and immediately changed the tone.

“I’m so sorry. But I’m going to have some questions for you.”

I replied to her questions about my bird’s doctor, changes to Her prescriptions, Her medical history, Our dreams and hopes dashed, one by one, by every answer I uttered…

“I have to tell you. Elizabeth and I weren’t legally married. But I feel like I should be the one to tell her parents…”

“when I was kissing on my baby / and she put her love down soft and sweet
in the lowland plot I was free / heaven and hell were words to me…”

I’d left a message, my phone rang as Golden and I were talking.

“I have to get this… Hello, Judy. I really don’t know how to tell you this…”

The zip of the body bag.

“But Elizabeth passed away last night…”

Golden steps into the bedroom…

“I don’t know. I think it might have been Her meds? She had a doctor’s appointment yesterday. I came home last night and found Her passed out in the chair. Work had been busy, I didn’t get home til after ten and Edgar was crying at the door. She hadn’t taken him out yet. I roused Her, though. She was up for the next hour or so. She was woozy… We were talking, though, for a bit, before She got ready for bed… Pulled down the covers for Her, turned on the news, dozed on the couch, just like any other day. Woke at three and then found Her… They’re taking Her out now…”

twig & fig — opening, 18 may 2018; photographed by pan ellington.

This is Us — looking forward.

This is Us — watching the bloom of Her dream.

This is Us — before The End.

This is Us — against the world…

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