By the way, the headstone is lovely,
designed by your niece, it pays tribute
to you as aunt, as sister, as friend.
I do wish it had said mother as well
but I know I’m the one secret you thought
would fit into a corner of the pine box,
buried with you, to be, like you, reclaimed
by the rocky soil of West Virginia.
Little could you have imagined that
a few cc’s of saliva could expose
what you so carefully hid, and you
were helpless to avoid it regardless.
My adoptive father, the second one,
slipped away slowly, dying before death,
under the living eyes of aides and nurses.
You just lived your life your way,
answered to yourself and perhaps God,
and decided it was time to go, needed
no permission, made no farewells,
and in that regard, I am one of the family.