My friend Nancy died yesterday. I knew she was dying. Everyone knew. She knew. A week ago she refused any more treatments and surrendered to hospice. And then she left us. I took this photo at home about an hour before the news reached me that she was gone.
I was doing what I love to do; playing with the setting sun and letting the camera app randomize effects. I never know what I’m going to get, which is the fun part. I took two of these. The first one was a dud. I didn’t get the angle of my skull to the light quite right. I say skull because as you can see, I still have very little hair. This is the second shot. Instantly loved it. Did nothing to it except crop it.
But while I was cropping it I gasped. There is a tiny face floating up around my forehead above my right eye. See it? At my hairline. It looks like a child. Feels feminine. Smiling, gazing toward the left of the photo. Looks like she’s happy, laughing, singing, or calling out boisterously. A ruffled collar? See it? Vertical stripes or pleats on her dress, perhaps? See it?
I immediately scrolled back to the other photo (the dud) and checked the same location to see if she was there. Nope. No tiny girl. I didn’t change the settings between the two shots. Although I set the camera app to pick a random effect it doesn’t change effects between multiple shots unless I shake the phone to randomize it again. I didn’t shake it. The settings were the same for both shots. Little fairy head only appeared in the second one.
I saved it for later. When later arrived The Chef came to tell me Nancy passed. Near the time I took the photo. I went back to look again.
Another Nancy was elected Speaker of the House yesterday. Same day my Nancy left the Earth. That’s an interesting coincidence, isn’t it? Nancy was the first woman to be elected Speaker twelve years ago yesterday, which also makes her first woman to do it twice. My Nancy spent twelve years fighting to stay alive. Leukemia. Six different mutations and she still kept herself alive for twelve years. What a woman. Quite a historic day for Nancys.
I was sad for Nancy a week ago because she was saying goodbye to all of This and all of Us, and goodbyes are naturally sad. But yesterday when she died I wasn’t sad at all. And I’m still not sad. Imagine having leukemia for twelve years. Six kinds of leukemia. No, I’m happy for Nancy. She’s free. Maybe she looks like this little floaty face in my photo now, all sassy and sing-song and jokes on you, Leukemia, because you stay in the body and I get to do all this other cool stuff like play in sunsets and hitch a ride on foreheads and inspire writers ballsy enough to keep believing in me even after I die.
Of course Nancy had short hair. Although the little floaty face is on the right side of the photo, this is actually above my left eye, where my part meets my forehead. Where fairies can velcro in. And maybe jack around with my hearing because every bird I hear this morning sounds like he/she is laughing. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the first thing Nancy did after she passed over was to laugh and laugh and laugh. The Earth is laughing with you, Nance. And so am I.
The name Nancy is a derivative of older names. One of its meanings is the word grace, which is also a verb; as in to grace us with her presence. To honor us with her presence. I certainly enjoyed her company while she here in human form. As for gracing us (me) in any other form, she obviously knows where she’s welcome. Plenty of space around my head and an open mind inside it. I’d rather be grateful than scoff, y’all. Surfing sunsets with her feels like a better way to return the favor than refusing to believe.