The air was heavy with ghosts today and the pages of her 1935 journal were full of them. I sat across the breakfast table with Babu and she talked with so much emphasis about her friend, Ernestine Jones. She gets this tone to her voice when she’s expressing love, and her words go on just slightly longer.
“She was soo beeautiful. Inside and out. You would have loved her.”
Years were folding in and overlapping. In September, 1935, she meets Ernestine for the first time. At Bay Path. They are not yet friends, and she is gone now.
But I feel like she’s in the room with us, wrapping her arms around Babu.
“I wonder if she’s still alive.” I don’t tell Babu what I really think, what I’ve realized for a while. She is the last of her kind. The very last. I wonder, is that a fate I’d wish on anyone?
On her way to the bathroom, she stops in the doorway, walker half in half out of the room.
“My very good friend…Zosh.” She’s almost cooing so she says it almost like; “Zoosh” Not pronounced differently just a little longer than regular speed.
“She was so silly! Silly and smart. She was silly to make life fun.”
We talk of her passing, as we often do although it hasn’t been for a while. Babu doesn’t know that I know she kissed her fingers, laid them on her best friend’s cheek as she lay in her coffin and said: “See you around, toots.” A fact revealed to me by my sister.
As we are talking, she is inching her way into the bathroom. She shuts the door, and I walk away, in tears, but I have to hurry back to the door because while sitting on the toilet, she has opened the door again. “She had a brother and he loved me!” I know he is gone,too, passing a few weeks before Zosh.
I think of how alone Babu is, and how glad I am that she’s not alone. Although… I feel her friends are surrounding her this morning. She’s hasn’t said it but her stories are out pouring from her today, and she’s so filled with joy, I can’t imagine anything but the feeling of seeing an old friend, hugging her, knowing you’ve missed her but knowing she’s finally here again.
When I began transcribing I knew I’d be honoring Babu’s life, but I had no idea I’d be doing so for the beautiful Ernestine and the silly and smart Zosh and even the injured Teddy and the knuckle-headed Drobey, Jeanette, the constant movie companion, and her parents, always providing for her and sharing their love.
I know these ghosts are here today just by the way the air in thicker to breathe. (Maybe it’s just this overcast early autumn morning, or the echoes in my head of living in two vastly separate decades at once.) I wrote a poem and in it I told them:
You must wait. You have to wait.