Remember as a kid when you would hold your hand out the car window and float it up and down in the wind? As a kung fu guy, Mike would play with the wind the same way, with the same joy as that child riding in the car. I have a hard time describing how that large man would seem to float effortlessly in the air, twirling, kicking, jumping, his arms moving in spirals so fast your eyes could barely keep up. And in big wind, he had even more fun. He used to love to go to the windiest spots on the island to play like that.
I did not enjoy big wind like he did. But if you knew Mike, you knew that about him. So after he died, one of the things we associated with his presence was the wind.
For a birthday a year or two before his passing, a good friend gave me one of those bamboo wind chimes. It had a particular sound, a kind of bonking, when the wind blew. It hung just over his favorite rocking chair on our lanai, the one I now so frequently inhabit. And for those first heart wrenching six or so months after he died I would sit there in that mindless stupor, wondering how I was going to survive without him, listening to the bamboo chimes, imagining it was him, somehow, talking to me, letting me know he was around, allowing that pain to course through my body with every clickety-clack.
Then at one point I couldn’t stand it any longer. I don’t really know why, but I just needed that sound to go away. I took down the chimes and gave them to one of his daughters.
One of my neighbors has a wind chime that makes the exact same sound. I can’t hear it from my lanai, thank goodness, but when I’m out back cleaning the dog yard, and the wind is blowing, there it is. That sound. Like him somehow saying, hey, I’m still here, I’m still talking, I am the wind, I will always be the wind.
It makes my heart go pang when I hear it. And just like how certain smells take you back in time to a certain memory, that sound takes me back to those first horrific months after he died. I see myself sitting there in that stupor, I feel the fresh pain of his death all over again.
Just another trigger I guess. Triggers we cannot turn off or mute.