zus died yesterday
we say in her sleep
but the truth is
her lungs started
filling with fluid
and she needed
and phone calls
with doctors
because life
is sometimes
messy that way

zus was almost
a century old
with very little hair
left on her head
but a lot of joy
in her eyes and
a certain clarity
of mind

the last time
i saw here
i bumped
a wheelchair
against her table
it made her

zus means
sister in dutch
which she still was
but her last remaining
sibling lost
her mind
a long time ago
which means
zus will live on
as long as she does
and we will
stop reminding her

zus told us stories
about the traveling
she had done
in her time
the americas
and asia
and a lot of europe

it’s funny how
we think it’s ours
until we run out of it

we stand in her
little room
relics of the people
she lost are everywhere
there is a picture
of a black and white couple
in a rowing boat
on her wall
a younger version
of her and
what i assume
was her husband

there are souvenirs
from her travels
smiling faces
of the children
that came after her

zus lays
in bed
her nails
painted red
and a fake blush
gracing her wrinkly
little face

i can’t believe
how alive she looks
i say
god they were

we look at her
in her best top
and i realise
my mind
never really
accepts the bodies
they leave behind

i see their
chests rise
long after
their hearts
have stopped

shame we can’t open
her window
my workmate says
she would have loved
to hear the spring birds