by Angeliska on February 20, 2005
I don’t know how to do this.
I don’t know how to encapsulate,
to express in a few words, a thousand words
everything there is to say
about this girl:
Pandora Aurora Rose Pumpkinhead
(Katherine Jeanine Hastings)
July 22nd, 1975 – January 25th, 2005
She was, among many other things,
(best described by our friend Mer-
a talented musician, an artist, a poet, a killer DJ,
a fire-breather, a stilt-walker, a rookie entymologist,
a fine picnic hostess, a fantastic director,
a creative and energetic storyteller, a costumer,
a lover of animals and children, a burlesque star,
and an instigator of phenomenal
events and occurrences.
She was whip-smart, wickedly funny,
well-read, well-traveled, loyal,
generous with her time, quick to love,
quick to forgive, bad-ass, sexy, silly,
thoughtful, and endearingly childlike/childish.
She was a faery, a whiskey-pixie.
She was a firecracker.
She was a siren.
She was Calamity Jane.
She was my friend and I miss her.
If I could compose a paean,
a eulogy, an elegy for her
I would- but the words I have
are to her, a letter that I can
never send. I’ve never had
to write anything more difficult-
Bear with me, while I try.
This was you:
Minutes after being born,
the littlest pumpkin..
Before your eyes darkened
to foxfire amber, full of sparks
and mischief’s glint.
Your tiny starfish hands curled
and itching to be full of the world,
to know what was out there..
Before life happened to you..
You so bright and small.
It’s hard to believe it’s been almost
a month since you died..
It’s taken me this long to come to the
place where I could even attempt to
say what needs to be said:
now, I want to try and say it to you-
even though I don’t know where you are,
I feel you with me all the time.
I hear your gravelly kitten voice
pulling at my ear, I see your eyes
when I close mine.
The night I found out, I had just
been thinking of you- a few weeks before
I was standing on the street discussing
your invincibility with our tall friend-
how you were made of rubber,
made to bounce back..
Oh, how we believed that.
Unthinkable, then that he should call me
later and ask me to verify a rumor,
a horrible rumor that you were dead-
and not in some fiery calamity,
not some bizarre accident-
but alone in the bath,
a needle in your hand.
I refused it utterly-
I wouldn’t accept it as truth until
I spoke to someone that had seen you.
A dozen phonecalls later, my egg of denial
started to crack. I fell on the floor howling,
knowing you were lost.
In the morning, I called the police.
The detective verified all our worst fears-
he had seen you. He told me it was true,
and even then, it didn’t seem real.
Impossible, that you could be gone-
but far too late for a joke, an errant bit of
nasty gossip- the hope that I could ever
hear your voice wisecracking,
“Remember when everyone thought I was dead?”
Yeah, we all totally freaked out.
The next week was lost in a blur of tears.
I got sick, and blew out a blood vessel
in my eye from weeping. It didn’t matter-
I couldn’t stop, because with your death
came every other- each loss magnified,
brought back just as fresh, just as raw..
It seems every year we lose another
friend this way- ignominious and
horribly wasteful, how beauty and genius
are continually destroyed by a love,
a need for poppy juice and opium escape.
It makes no sense.
A few nights before the funeral, the three of us
came together to make a shrine for you-
carved wood and hinges, images of
everything that brought you to mind:
Beetles, orchids, geishas, jewels.
Laughing fountains and paper dolls.
Rabbits, forests, foxes, graces.
Carousel animals, chariots, cocoons.
Monarch migrations, moons.
We came to Dallas bearing candles,
flowers, rose-flavoured cupcakes,
dollies, candy, and treasures to
place on your altar- along with a
shot of Jameson’s and a shot
of Pepto Bismol, for your
notoriously troubled tummy.
The service was held outside,
on a gorgeous clear day.
Everyone was shaky and scared.
Your friends from Austin all came,
and your entire family was there-
and both groups did their best to
comfort each other. In the sunlight,
under bare oaks and overlooking
a winter-worn field we sat as the
minister incanted ashes to ashes.
A herd of little black cows came up
to the fence to pay their respects,
and we all bust up- knowing you
would be loving it and laughing
in some heavenly saloon
about your unruly bovine mourners..
There were pictures of you everywhere,
and red rose petals, and a big feast-
but I couldn’t eat anything, only drink
whiskey, and more whiskey.
Everyone did- in your honour
and in order to get through it.
I’ve been lighting candles for you,
having imaginary conversations
with you, poring over pictures of
you, writing letters to your friends
and family, crying over you in
drugstores and bathrooms and bars..
None of it brings you back.
Nothing I do now will ever kill
the hideous sense of regret that
I didn’t show you enough, tell
you enough that you were loved.
Everyone that loved you feels now
a terrible guilt, because we all
believe that there was more we
could have done to help you,
to save you. If only, and
if we had- would you still
be here with us?
Living your life
being a fairy of peril
having easter egg hunts and tea parties
and laughing (with midgets)
and eating watermelon?
I don’t know, honey.
It kills me that you never
realized how amazing
you were. I wish we could
have shown you that before
it was too late. I wish I had
seen you, talked to you more
in the last five years.
Visited you when I had the chance.
Had slumber parties and
gone out dancing with you.
People all across the country,
scattered all over the world
are mourning the loss of you.
You touched so many lives.
I know you were in pain,
I know you were sad
most of the time.
I’m sorry I wasn’t there.
I’m sorry I couldn’t
make it better.
I love you.
I miss you.
“If your hands were in mine
I’d be sure we’d not sever..
My apple tree, my brightness
It’s time we were together
For I smell of the earth
And am worn by the weather..”
I don’t know how to say goodbye.