Living and Dying




At night I look up at the stars. First, I look for Orion; his belt has three stars, and I wonder if any of my distant ancestors ever stared at the night sky, swatting away mosquitoes and wondering who the hell is Orion?  Well, of course, there was!

Leo, I don’t believe I am at the end of life; because, except for a few relatives who died young due to hunger, poverty or plague, my family on both sides — except papi— is known for its longevity.

(My Papi died of a heart attack at 63.  The two of us were walking down a street in the Bronx when he fell to the ground and died in my arms.)

I don’t have heart disease; that is for sure.

Of course, people die for many reasons.  If heart disease doesn’t kill you, Cancer will, or a runaway bus.  All I know is we don’t know when or why our time is up.  But then that wasn’t the important question anyway.

Who was she —  that ancient ancestor of mine, who stared up at Orion?  How overwhelmed by the grandeur must she have been that she created a story to explain the magic of lights in the heavens?  

Around the campfires she told and retold her stories — yes, stories as in the plural because no decent storyteller stops at just one — anyhow, she told her stories until everyone believed they were true.  It is certain her inheritors safeguarded the stories of mighty Orion; because, they were the heritage and birthright of all who listened.  

Tumbling through the eons Orion arrived here, a little less glossy than he was — reduced from a god to a myth, but he made it and not too many others could say that.  Perhaps as a kindness, Orion brought with him my unknown, unnamed ancestress, whose stories touched billions of people, making him famous on their journeys through time.  I’m proud of her.

I wonder what her name was?  What she looked like; how she lived and died?  Occasionally, when I was younger I used to wonder if her truth is any less than Einstein’s?  But now that I am older and wiser, I know Einstein still has a little catching up to do.  



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