It was four years ago this past Tuesday that you went into the sickhouse and never came back out. You told me it wasn't your last rodeo and I spent longer than I'd like to admit being angry at you for unintentionally lying to me. Whenever I look up at the ridge of Leavenworth Mountain, toward the ruins of Waldorf on the other side of that ridge, where we scattered your immolated bones, I smile bittersweetly, thinking perhaps you're really not that far away after all.
When I saw her kneeling to snap a photograph, I saw you. Right down to the Carhartt ranch jacket. The same hair-before you got sick and the chemo shaved you bald-and the same smile. Even a similar lack of chin. I tried very hard not to stare.
With purposeful stride I put some distance between us. Once I rounded a corner, I caught myself trembling slightly. As with most any time I see a ghost of memory, I found myself rattled. There were so many things I wanted to ask and tell, but she wouldn't have understood. But part of me thinks I should be grateful for that doppelganger in the Carhartt ranch jacket that looked so disturbingly like you. If I allow myself a moment of superstition, I could theorize it was your way of letting me know you're really not that far away after all.