Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Hallelujah Chorus

A year ago my best friend, a five-time cancer survivor, died after the disease struck a sixth time. Her name was Tonya; she was six-one in her stocking feet, and she was a fierce woman. I woke up this morning thinking about her. She lived a full life and was grateful for each day. I miss her friendship, her volatility, her great, large spirit.
That's Tonya on the right.
We talked at length several times about her impending death. I profiled her for our local magazine and wrote several poems about that doomed struggle to stay alive and grateful: my loss, our grief, her relentless lack of self-pity.
I took the photo when she first got the diagnosis that cancer had returned. It's the only photo I ever took of her that she loved.
There's still a hole in my life where Tonya's presence used to be.
Here's a poem I wrote about her a few months back. It works for anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one. She would tell us: Live in gratitude for each day God gives you to make a difference in someone's life.

I Can Almost Hear You, Love

I cruise the internet looking for you
the voice I need to speak
the words stuck deep
in the throat of the brontosaurus

I find you not but am distracted
by the voices chattering
like so many birds in the pine
outside the house they shrill

unless I’ve had my morning coffee
and walked the dog and felt
my life unfold, a blanket
keeping in what warmth remains

then the shrill becomes a choir
singing hallelujah I still live
though you do not and while
my throat is stopped yours is not

you speak and sing in some
other place beyond this place
and I can almost hear you, love

Chris Alba (c) 2009


Karen said...

This is a beautiful tribute to your friend, but as you said, it works for anyone who has suffered this sort of loss.

I love that the shrill does become a choir and that her voice is not stopped. What a beautiful ending.

Tall Kay said...

This moved me to tears. What a beautiful woman on the inside and out. Her bravery and inspiration continues through your words. May she rest in peace in the sight of God. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Gin said...

What a beautiful person she was. This tribute was beautiful as well. I am so sorry that you had to experience this loss.

Syd said...

Wonderful tribute to a brave lady. I'm sorry that you lost your friend.

Shadow said...

wow, what a tribute. your love for her shines through the words.