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YMCA: A Sign by Janet Lopes

As the leaves manifest their orange hues, I am happy, yet tears gush, showing no mercy. Seven months ago, we spent three days side by side holding hands, swaying in a hug, you slipping away while I clung to your presence. Little did I know that my clinging only heightened the hurdles in your journey. Had I known then, I would certainly have tried to release you as you drifted.

I pestered before you left, “If you leave before me, give me a sign that you are near and if I go first, I’ll give you a sign as well.” I waited for his punchline--always first came Armindo’s punch line.

A grin beneath a tight lip surfaced. “What makes you think I want to know when you are around?” We laughed as always.

One day, seated on a soft footstool before him, rubbing essential oils on his calves, soothing as much as able, I again asked, not expecting his response.

“You know, that group that sings…” struggling with a method to explain. I soon realized and with arms flailing over my head, then fingers touching in front of me to signify the M, then off to the side loosely to create a poor excuse for a C…. I said, “YMCA.”

Laughter dimmed his pain for the moment.

I listened for our song. Who chooses YMCA for their love song?

That day, suppertime tugged you deeper.

That evening, connecting with the words of the nurse who attended as you passed, I used the adrenaline of which she spoke. I flicked on the radio, scrubbed the areas of the house that screamed for a cleaning. I laughed, I cried, I scrubbed. The music swayed me. I am grateful to that nurse. I know that the following day that energy would not have been there.

I felt at peace knowing your journey entailed swiftness forward.

How could it not for the man whose purpose in life led him to make others laugh? Rarely did he pass a person without engaging in conversation.

I shall work to live up to your example.

I felt loved that evening when one of our group’s songs on the radio filled me with laughter mixed with tears; In the navy, sang the group that also sings, YMCA. “You made it, my dear!” I exclaimed.

Sometime later as I settled to write monotonous, repetitious forms, the second line I heard as I turned on the radio, No man can do it all on his own. I say… YMCA.

“Your sister can do this!” Half astounded, half foreseeing, I hugged my shoulders.

I left the forms for Armindo’s sister and she wrote as I completed other work.

Even from the other side, you are still telling me what to do. You keep me laughing still like every session that spiritually, emotionally enhanced and enchanted us.

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