I’m a matter-of-fact girl in a clerical collar with a few things of value to share. One, it’s good to share. Two, everybody has value. I can’t explain death or the consequences it casts backward into our lives or forward onto our survivors but I’ve measured some of those shadows where I live. They can be long and deep, darker than abandonment, the hour of deprivation always sudden, even when we see it coming. Last week, we got a call to get to Carl’s place by the logging road. When we got there, the two-man saw Carl had been using with his buddy to clear the timber from their lot was still doing its job, still sawing, but Carl was pinned beneath the fallen trunk in such a way that the blade was slowly bisecting him at the waist. His buddy was dead but his body, which the crew were laboring to extract from the earth and lumber where he’d fallen, still clung to his end of the saw. They were too smart not to have avoided this. Another day I’ll tell you how it happened. I looked at Carl, whose eyes were focused on a place inside my head that I’m afraid of. “Don’t worry,” he said. “There’s nothing here can hurt me.” I did what I always do when a dying man tells me something I can’t believe. I agreed with him. “Everybody I love, knows it,” Carl told me. “My work is done.” My tears came so quickly I was blinded. I prayed for God to send someone better to do this job. The crew had stopped digging to listen and nobody came to relieve me. I held Carl’s hand. “Except you,” he said, meaning me, I think. “I never told you. I’m sorry for that.”

Copyright © July 12, 2008 David Hodges

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