The first one felt right, there was nothing deeper considered, just that feeling that now, I know, anyone might have provided but then, it was something in a world of nothing.
The second, really, was certainly right, for life this time, the wisdom of a single failure enough to ensure success, and when it came apart thirty years later, it was apparent it was never right, just more than nothing.
This one is right, for it does not require feeling so, merely being in her presence, a completeness I never knew, which explains why this time nothing can get in the way of the ultimate everything.
I approach it slowly, overcome by fear and desire, warned to step carefully over the uneven earth that on this hillside haven set behind the rusting wrought iron fence , its master lock dangling askew, peers out through the trees to the Kanawha river flowing unknowingly through the valley.
The stone is set in line with the others, neatly incised, a name, English and Hebrew, two petunias, cornered, in perpetual bloom, a beloved sister and aunt, and unstated, unknown perhaps, a mother whose son, gently touching the stone, washes her with my tears, and we speak of love in silence, and I, a child of sixty-seven, embrace my mother for the first time, and I am finally and for the first time, complete
It is difficult explaining to a child, even one who has reached the age of 40, that you once knew all there was to know. They are certain they know more than you, and they know all there is to know so, a fortiori, you could not know all that there is to know, period. They will say this with a certain smugness born, they believe, of the knowledge that they know quite everything. But there is still a perverse pleasure in watching their smugness collapse like a house of cards in a storm, when you remind them that there was so much less to know when you knew everything, and so it will be for their children when the reckoning comes.
The question is a simple one, really, but not one you were expecting, which is why you sit and grapple for an answer. Ask yourself, what if no answer is needed, what if there is no answer, can you remain silent, or will you feel somehow incomplete if you do not respond? All answers are correct, but beware, for all answers are incorrect as well. Now consider the question again, carefully, what do you respond when you are asked once again, insistently, “who are you?” Be very careful for if you gaze into a mirror you will see someone else and if you say that person is you, you will most certainly disappear.