He was a C scale descending. An early Beatles song: sunbeams and summer rain and handholding.
I was all minor cords straying from middle C.
He was glacier blue, electric blue, sapphire, peacock, indigo too.
I was Blue Nun blue, that sticky sweet teen wine, tipped back in the back seats of borrowed parent cars.
He was long fingers—piano player hands with leggy joints that could have reached high and low, stretched beyond an octave. “Do you play the piano?” I asked soon after we met. “Nope,” he said turning his hands over, studying them for what I saw.
I was girl-sized hands. My hands. With their two marriages marriage line I turned away from when I had my palm read as a teen. My palm with its bean-shaped pink scar that leans towards fuchsia in heat, towards ballet pink in cool. “What’d I do here?” I asked mom when I was girl. This scar I have no memory of earning. And she’d shrug, her left hand, palm up, like an offering. Years later when I read that scars can bleed through past lives, I got the shivers. My bean-shaped scar, speared by a palm line. A map clue to a lost memory to a Before that is both mine and isn’t mine.
He was forest deep, old growth cedars, blotting the sky in a canopy of cedar arms, the smell of forest and decay on my skin.
I was the fig tree I said I’d plant for 30 years and finally did this spring. Lizard colored leaves bigger than my hand already. Three tiny figs the size of olives.
He was the ocean in all its perfect blues: sea blue, ocean blue, Mediterranean blue on hot summer days, aquamarine with a tug of slate too, turned midnight blue as evening washes the sea.
I was the river at our family ranch. Bucking here. Chiseling banks there. Rapids peaking. The rush of river swallowing boulders, churning miniature waterfalls.
He was opera in the kitchen, swinging me across the fake brick linoleum. Pretend ballroom dancing. Swinging and twirling and dipping. Singing in his bass voice. Finishing with a flourish, with a deep bend me back until my hair skimmed the floor.
I was ballet and grand jetes and plies and pirouettes and feet bleeding in point shoes. I was pink tights and barre stretches and shoulders back and legs turned out and can you hold a perfect fifth position? I was elastic sewing, sequin gluing, moleskin wrapping. I was pinks of sugarplums and greens of woodland fairies.
He was Pink Floyd and Wish You Were Here. Singing in the tub early in the morning. This man who woke before 6, who bathed slow, who sipped chamomile tea from a handmade mug tossed by his potter friend, balanced on the edge of a steamy bath.
I was the other soul, swimming in a fishbowl, wishing he was still here.
He was starry night. Tucked in the Milky Way. Tucked in Rosetta Nebula, that nebula shaped like a skull with a rose at the center. Spy it on a winter night. Spy it while you’re wrapped in a blanket or a puffy down jacket.
I thought I was the Little Dipper because my yiayia called me that. Until he showed me Sagittarius in the night sky and my heart pressed ribs so hard I felt ribs and heart pulse.
“There you are,” he said, the soft of his cinnamon colored beard on my cheek. “I can always find you there,” he said.
He was my C scale descending. Foundation scale. Middle C the first note learning hands learn on piano keys. He gave me that middle C. A solidness I hadn’t known. He wrapped it in love and gave it to me. He said, “Here, it’s yours.” He said, “Hold it close.” He said, “What makes me me and you you, was never born and never dies.”
And this: “I’m always with you.”
If he’d known he was going to die too young, he would have said this too: “I’ll wait for you in the night sky.”
It’s where I look for him now: the night sky. In cosmic family portraits. In shooting stars. Orion’s belt. The Milky Way. In Rosetta Nebula. In that place where night wraps day. In the rib of the moon.
Anne Gudger is an essay/memoir writer who writes hard and loves harder. Previous work can be found at The Rumpus, Real Simple Magazine, Slippery Elm, Tupelo Quarterly, PANK, Atticus Review, Barren Magazine, Sweet Lit, Columbia Journal, and elsewhere. Plus she’s won three essay contests.