Cece’s Smile

For Mary and Matt

A while after Mev died
I went to a gathering at Jesuit Hall
In honor of Guadalupe Carney
Who had lived in Honduras with the poor

Scores of people were there
Across the crowded room I saw Cece Weinkauff
Who must have been 14 at that time
She saw me and let loose a smile to raise the dead

That beam of eyes that mouth and that hand wave were familiar to me
I felt instantly at ease
Happy and grateful
To behold Cece (to remember Mev)

For all I know Cece wasn’t trying to offer me consolation
She was being herself
And that consoled me
For a while that day

In those days desolation would appear just as suddenly
It might be seeing a woman in a wheelchair
Or one wearing a scarf in an unusual way
Or a Doppelgänger walking away from me down the aisle at Schnucks

Consolation came
But then went
And that was a desolation
Some of the time

Desolation came
And then went
And that was a consolation
Some of the time

There were times when desolation came
It was as if it was occupying my soul
Colonizing it
Setting up an infrastructure

Leading me to think:
This is the way it’s gonna be
And in those moments
(Sometimes those hours)

I was convinced
“This shit is here to stay”
I was always wrong about that, though
Which wasn’t always all that much consolation

All these years later
I remember Cece’s smile
A gift she unwittingly gave me
And which reminds me today

What got me through
Were hundreds
Thousands of moments like that

May we play a part
In such moments
For those feeling surrounded
By a loss that’s unfathomable

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