— Bonnie George
Practicing to read the letter Lizzie helped me write to her Mom, brings sobs each time,
With suggestions that someone else read it. I can’t do that… it’s Lizzie’s letter~
The words just flowed from my pen a few hours after she died…
And her Mom wants me to read it!
So, I choke a bit with stored up tears—struggle through at her memorial and hurry back down the aisle—
See Michael stand up, holds his arms out, and takes his Mom to cry outside. We sit on the steps
Where he tells me of how reassuring it is, to know that if a family member suddenly dies,
We all know of our love–nothing is left unsaid. He tells me that every time his buddies and brothers
Drive the van down to Baja or across Mexico to Cozumel, they make a pact:
“If one of us dies, we bury him on the side of the road
And pick him up on our way home–not to spoil our adventure!”
He makes me laugh!
I tell him it is okay with me–but I don’t speak for the other parents.
Now I think of him in 1960—I’m nine months pregnant with him.
We’re four months new to Key West without any family anywhere near.
His Dad, assigned to a submarine near Cuba, can’t come home until Michael is born
… and Hurricane Donna is coming!
Was Michael’s helpful humor learned in Key West Naval Hospital, where 90 of us—
Ninety Pregnant Wives in Our Ninth Month—were called to stay
When Hurricane Donna is on the way—corpsmen bring mattresses to us from their barracks
We are all in one large room… with access to only one toilet.
Did Michael’s humor develop when the woman sharing our mattress, has a fit—tightens up—
Yells to me to get help—I run for a doctor—I crash into a corpsman at a corner, running toward my screams
We both keep running; I see doctors coming—turn—run back—bump the same corpsman at the same corner.
We both continue on—never to see each other again. Did Michael’s sense of humor develop in my womb?
Many years after Lizzie’s memorial, I ask one of Michael’s travel buddies
If he ever told his parents about that pact they make before their trips…
They never made a pact like that.