An ordinary ending to a day which began as many probably do, for many people, all over the world. Meaning, with the breathtakingly unexpected.
As I watch my daughter dance after dinner to 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 they are fortunate for my continued existence. I don’t tend to think my continued existence is predicated on a great deal more than chance. But for that, so far, I am thankful. 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. Many get far less notice than that.
Every day I look through Barbara’s lens at my children, and now (’til mine is fixed) I am holding Barbara’s body, too. I have no idea what to do with that fact, but the symbolism is not lost on me. At the very least, I try to appreciate the gift. And what it reminds me of.
After attending Barbara’s memorial, I wrote:
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 it’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 doesn’t make me more lugubrious. It makes me more loving. I don’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.
“How much do I love you?” I ask her.
“Sooooooo much,” she answers.
“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.
“Will you still remember me when you’re a star, Baba?”
And I nod again, long and slow, and also smile. “Absolutely.” 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. 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. 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, 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.”