They kept bringing us water.
I don't remember much about the services following the passing of my brother five years ago but I do remember that they kept bringing us water. My cousins. Small paper cups filled with ice cold water from the funeral director's office. We sat on the hard pews of the small funeral home gazing ahead. His casket was silver and it was covered in flowers. Fresh and silk. I was lost in the empty spaces. Unsure if I was awake or awakening. After about the third cup, the weight of the water caused the paper cup to bend with my finger tips. The water skipped along the rim as I raised it to take a sip. I turned to one of my cousins and smiled. I hadn't seen her in years but we communicated in that familiar way only family can. She smiled back. Her eyes brightening briefly in that playful way it had when we were children. It was funny. The constant gift of water. My numb gratitude. It was funny but neither us thought it appropriate to laugh. She knew we needed something. Him. She couldn't bring him back. Water was all she had to give. She gave me more.
I was on the stair machine the other day at the gym. It's the hardest machine for me. I lose my breath almost instantly and the sweat pours from me with a constant intensity. I had just finished talking myself out of stopping. 20 minutes, I promised myself. I had about 8 left. I increased the level and brought my ice cold water bottle to my lips. It felt good. The water. Moistening my palate after the dryness of deep, deliberate "you can do this" breathes. Cooling the warmth that blanketed my skin.
I thought of them then. My cousins.
Bringing me those little cups. How the water had felt traveling through me. Moistening my mind from the dryness of deliberate "you can do this" thoughts. How the cold water had been the only thing real in that moment. Reminding me that I was alive. Reminding me that I still lived.
I chuckled, grateful, and finished my time.
Love and Light,