I find my heart in the closet rifling through my clothes.
“Where’s the cape?” She asks. “The one with the big S.”
“At the cleaners,” I say.
“And the tiara?”
I choose my words carefully because I’m pissed. “Don’t you remember? You gave it away to the first little girl who admired it. Those were real diamonds.”
She pouts. “Are you going to yell at me again for being generous?”
I soften. “No. Sorry. I’m not. Carry on. Be stupid generous.”
“What else you got in here?” she asks
“How about wings?”
“Perfect” she says, and slips them on. “Let’s go outside.”
“It’s cold and dark,” I object
“Of course it’s cold and dark,” she says. “It’s winter, But honey…the stars.”
We settle on two rocking chairs on the front porch. The air is so cold and clear it’s like the ringing of a crystal bowl. The darkness is radiant, fruitful, a pregnant pause in the turning of the earth.
“That’s better,” she says, settling down, folding her wings. “Now we can really see what’s out there.” I peer into the night and the stars are falling into each other’s arms, night birds are calling.
“Look,” she says.
And then I see the beloveds I have lost and still miss, and the dying I tended in my hospice work all those long years.
“I don’t want to see,” I protest. “It hurts too much.”
She takes my hands away from my eyes.
“All this talk of superpowers,” she says. “Do you think it means blasting your enemies with a laser? Do you want to be made of steel so that you forget how to bend or how to weep?”
“Do you see what I saw?” She asks, pointing down and down through the diseases, the failing eyesight, the loneliness. “I saw a heart that beats just like me. I saw myself in their suffering, in their longing for love, their grasping for life. Our hearts beat together ba boom ba boom ba boom until theirs stopped and mine went on.”
“Listen,” she says and gestures for me to lean in close. “That ba boom? That’s theirs too. All of their suffering, their love, the 65 years they spent with their families, that’s still beating inside me. Listen.” And I do.
“Grief is love that’s looking for a find a place to go and if we’re that place, we’re made bigger and stronger by it. This is how I’ve grown strong,” she says, flexing her wings. “By letting my heart break. By not turning away from the grief of others. By crying rivers of tears that bathed us both in comfort.”
“It’s not exactly what you’d call a superpower,” she says. “It’s more like a mini-power, a teeny tiny power that’s so small it can travel through the bloodstream, see through another’s eyes. It’s the willingness to feel the yearning of another and share their grief.”
“Don’t be afraid,” she says, standing up and stretching, unfolding her wings. “I’m strong. I’m a goddamn muscle. I can fly.”