An ordinary ending to a day which began as many probably do, for many people, all over the world. Meaning, with the breathtakingly unexpected. Â
As I watch my daughter dance after dinner to Â Swan Lake, (here, Suite 4: Scene (White Swan), I know (again) how profoundly fortunate I am for the existence of her, of her brother, and of my beloved. Likewise I know theyÂ areÂ fortunate for my continued existence. Â I don’t tend to think my continued existence is predicated on a great deal more than chance. Â But for that, so far, I am thankful. Â There but for the grace of God.
The camera body and the lens I took this picture with are both on loan from a dear friend, who herself received them from a dear friend who had died of cancer with six short months’ notice. Â Many get far less notice than that. Â
Every day I look through Barbara’s lens at my children, and now (’til mine is fixed) I am holding Barbara’s body, too. Â I have no idea what to do with that fact, but the symbolism is not lost on me. Â At the very least, I try to appreciate the gift. Â And what it reminds me of. Â
After attending Barbara’s memorial, I wrote:
Â I realize that death is, at the very least, camped out in a van across the street, eating donuts and sipping cheap coffee. More likely itâ€™s sitting quietly in every room of the house, discreetly reading the paper, looking up from time to time to cast a watchful eye on the proceedings. Waiting for whomever, whenever.
This realization doesnâ€™t make me more lugubrious. It makes me more loving. I donâ€™t feel morbid; just mindful. And grateful.
Tonight, as I was tucking in my daughter, I added a new twist to the rhetorical question I constantly ask the kids. Â
“How much do I love you?” I ask her.
“Sooooooo much,” she answers. Â
“And how long will I love you?”
She pauses only as long as it takes for her eye to twinkle. “Forever!”
And I nod long and slow and serious.Â
“Will you still remember me when you’re a star, Baba?”
And I nod again, long and slow, and also smile. “Absolutely.” Â Which is the God’s honest truth. I know this for a fact.
She asks me how I know, and I tell her. “My mother lets me know,” I say. (“How?”) “I hear her here” — I touch my fingers to my temple — “and feel her here” — and I touch my palm to my heart.
Her eyes twinkle again, and she smiles wide, and says, “You’ll be the first star I see at night.”
It is hypothetical/magical to her, I imagine. Not so to me. Â I continue to smile, and nod long and slow. One day, that star — the one which was once my mother to me, then my nephew; the one which to my daughter is our dear old dog, now gone — one day, that star will be me. Â I try in my ways to prepare her, her brother, and my beloved for the breathtakingly unexpected (a task which forgetfulness makes Sisyphean). All I can really hope for,Â as Mary Oliver writes, is this:
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was
a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”Â