For Rebecca: Two Images. One On My Body, One On My Soul.

As they carried Rebecca’s body away, I saw a glimmer of green. Fireflies. It was too early in the season, but as the men lifted what was left of her into the back of the van, a single firefly darted about their shoulders.  One single emerald streak.

One small firework for a dead girl.

When I am tired of fireflies, I have long said, put me in the ground.  Fireflies are my renewal.  Every year the fireflies come and dance across my lawns, and no matter how old I am I still rush out in that cloud of spotted bioluminescence, and hunt for the fireflies floating in the dusk until my eyes ache so I can scoop them onto my fingertips and carry them for a while.  They’re irritated, they always are, but they tolerate me well.

So to see them carrying Rebecca off seemed like my soul was going with her.

And mysteries upon mysteries; the fireflies kept coming.  Whenever Gini and I went on long walks and spoke of Rebecca, a firefly streaked, sometimes out of nowhere.  We’ve lived in our house for fourteen years now and never had one wander inside – but this year one did, a dancing spark, lighting up our living room.

When Gini and I were done holding each other, I looked for the firefly, to escort it outside.  But we never found it.

I remain, at my heart, both a skeptic and a mystic; do I believe that Rebecca’s soul appears to us clad in fireflies?  No.  But I don’t not believe it, either.  The world is large, and I’ll acknowledge that coincidence oft overlaps with mystery – and while I see confirmation bias everywhere I look, the universe is too big for me to fit it into all my scientific boxes.

And so Rebecca became intertwined with fireflies.  I doubt I’ll ever walk into spring again without feeling her hand reaching back to me, irrational though that is.

Yet magic or coincidence, things happen.

Far away, artist Maria Fabrizio was working on an assignment for NPR; she was to illustrate a story about assisted suicide, which had to be done tastefully.  She was reading articles, and saw Eric’s eulogy for Rebecca, and watched the fireflies dance across her lawn.  And she thought of us all huddled together, watching Rebecca as her breath slowed and stopped, and decided that fireflies were a metaphor for a beloved passing.

Coincidence or magic, she wove herself effortlessly into our mythology.

And she sent the picture to Eric, who had a print of it made for us.  This isn’t as it appeared on the article; she tinted the central firefly purple, to represent Rebecca, and we as the other glows staying as close as we could as she soared away.

It’s beautiful.

Spark, 2014, by Maria Fabrizio. For Rebecca.

As for the other image, it involves no fireflies.  It’s just needles in flesh, a permanent engraving to carry Rebecca with me.  She got so short a time; I often wonder why the hell I didn’t let her sip my drink.  She never had alcohol, never had her first kiss, never got to college.  There’s something terrible and bottomless about a girl who never lived long enough to sneak seeing an R-rated movie with her friends.

She’s on me, now.  I’ll carry her with me.  And it’s foolish, thinking that maybe some part of Rebecca is knotted in my flesh now, watching all the things she never got to see, travelling by my side as I show her all the things she never got to witness in an absurdly truncated life.

But I do think that.  And I miss her.

And she’s here.

My tattoo of Rebecca Meyer. My Goddaughter. My Little Spark. I'll miss you, kid.

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