The last time

I will remember you
the way you were
when we were last together.
Pony-tail smartly bouncing
legs vigorously
eating the cratered path
as we walked
into the pink-clouded
Sierra Nevada evening.
Perhaps you were not joyful
but you were not sad
as you chattered on
about future excitements
past funny stories
moments of pride
for children’s important choices.
You spoke about the future
with expectation and hope
and I could barely keep up
with the quick stride of your legs
as if your determination and focus
would keep you safe on the path.
I did not think
anything strange
but then
you quietly excused yourself
from a planned family dinner
slipped into your room
at 6:30 p.m.
and did not emerge until morning.
I thought that strange
but the memory
of your vigorous walking
your confident, stalwart manner
caused me to brush aside
my query
and turn to
my own concerns.
And now
I can never ask you
what you were really thinking
on our walk.
Did you know?
Even then,
had you decided?
Were your words
a rehearsed script
in a meticulous plan?
Or were they
a hope
a prayer
for what could be
what you wished
might possibly be
had the darkness
stayed away?
I will never know
and so I choose to remember
the jaunty movement
of your pony-tail
embraced by the mountains’ fading glow
as the real you
the you who was
kind
sacrificial
loyal
brave
the kind of friend
everyone wants
everyone counts on
and everyone loves.
The kind of friend
whose loss
leaves me
disorientated
and with
a heavy stone on my heart.
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