Connecting Terri Schiavo to Mr Bojangles
He said name, Bojangles, and he danced a lick Across cell. He grabbed his pants, a better stance, he jumped up high, He clicked his heels. He let go a laugh, he let go a laugh, Shook back his clothes all around.
During Holy Week this year, in seeping humidity and fluorescent half light of 3:00 am Florida hospital a nurse poked her head into Terri Schiavo’s room.
And nurse was alone.
Somewhere else, very, very far from that hospital room where nurse stood alone; surrounded by hulking quiet life support machines-----Terri and Michael were ice skating.
That trip to go ice skating started in rolling winter cold of flat Midwestern prairie in a year of an early Easter. Off to an ice skating parade.
Chugging along in an old VW bus, Michael and a pal rolling into some basketball crazy town, turning into Will and Betsy’s heaping snow shoveled driveway---a hand lettered sign Will had stuck in tallest snow pile right next to back door that said THIS WAY TO PARADISE! Like some sort of palm waving parade. But instead there was snow.
Betsy was playing Holly Near and Michael could hear words as he and his pal opened door and stepped into warmth of Betsy’s kitchen:
The junta took fingers From Victor Jara's hand They said to gentle poet Play your gitar now if you can Well Victor started singing Until they shot his body down You can kill a man But not a song When it's sung whole world round.
That trip through flat, white, cold Midwestern prairie; like some sort of grand holiday parade. You could almost hear cheering crowds of fate because something big, something really, really big was going to happen. That entry into kitchen, those sounds of coming fate, and Will said: “Michael and his pal! You’re here! Let’s have some beer!”
Just Mike, his pal and Will and Betsy. If life would have ended right then and there next to that kitchen counter ---that would have been enough. Making it through all that snow and then parade and then warmth of kitchen. That would have been enough. But there was lingering feeling that something else was coming.
And then Terri came through door.
Bundled up warm for winter in a puffy blue down coat and hats and scarves and sweaters and boots.
As Terri walked smiling through kitchen door Michael's thought was his own version of John Cheever line: She was kind of woman who could make simple act of taking her coat and sweater off seem as if she had slammed door on time.
And of course because they were all so young, they had to soon go somewhere---so just as soon as they all got settled, it was back out into cold—all together now: to go ice skating.