Gifts are wrapped in gold, and cinched in red ribbons; warm smiles watch as they unfold, brilliant surprises, efflorescent. While giver and receiver enheart, one ’round the other, flowers spill from mouths and the music embraces…I am at a railway station where parents blow kisses, sweet sadness in the final gift, showing me the way home.
The first gift we received was life. And even the most negligent parent must be thanked. For whatever they may have given or taken from us thereafter, we exult in the rise and fall of our chests, the coursing of blood, the relentless stream of thought. It is they, in deepest affection or in drunken stupour, who have given us our place in line. Through them we have arrived and shouted, “I am alive!”
The final gift is their death. They go before us, lamplighters in the darkness, showing that the taste of cough medicine is not so bad after all. And before us still, in their passing, they lead us to the railway station, blowing kisses, saying, “Come…you can take the journey too.”
Far past the midpoint of my life, I live between parentheses: the first and final gift. In dreams my parents swim before me like divers among the corals and the brilliant coloured fishes, smiles calling me onward, still easing the fear of potions.
And for what they are about to do, I thank them.