The other morning I woke at 6 am naturally. The sunrise was beautifully pink and bright. The sky was on fire. Sailors talk about the color of the sky to predict the day's weather. I like the almost mythical feeling I associate with that sentiment. I like people who comment on the sunrise and sunset because it tells me they stopped to take it all in for a time and I assume that means they too believe there is more to life than just “us”.
Since we moved, we have really enjoyed the amount of light that comes in our home. The rises here have been a welcome addition. They always seem to be toned with a powerful hue so I rarely take it as a sign about the weather of the day but this morning I considered how it might be a nod to an old friend's last day. It was just a fleeting thought; a sad lonely fleeting thought about the reality of someone so vibrant leaving this world. It was a thought about how something can be so beautiful that you miss it before it is even gone.
The night before, I was drawn to the silence for the first time in a while. It’s always there now with my dad but I have grown to sometimes disavow the abundant inaccessibility death leaves the living. It lead me to think about what a family does when a stronghold passes on; it reminded me about the anger and the sadness, as well as the relief, that death can bring. I thought about Jeannette* and what a strong fighter she is, what a love of life she has, and about how my favorite moments with her are conversations between just us. I thought about how I have changed and grown since I met her and how now more than ever, a good conversation means so much to me. We could talk about stuff I felt too encumbered to talk about with other people and at times, especially these past few years, we would hold hands. She's always been great at creating a space to just be; and she has done it for countless people.
Our conversations were never weekly or even monthly but a few solid throughout the year; enough to leave a strong impression on me and validate two beings connecting. They dwindled as she grew sicker. This past Christmas I found myself annoyed and when I finally dug down to the marrow, I realized it was that I missed the one surefire conversation that I had become accustomed to as a "gift" over the past 10 years - since I first came to her house over the holidays and fell in love with the energy there.
Two years ago I watched as she relayed a favorite story to the family. She had asked me to write it up as a stocking gift for everyone and then on Christmas day she asked me read it aloud. I pushed back saying the moment was hers to share and that everyone would much rather hear it coming from her. At the time I was full of death and thinking she wouldn't be around the following year. I wanted that moment for them to hold on to as I knew how precious good memories could be for a broken heart. I knew she was doing it to get me out of my head and to support the "writer" in me. And I was sorely mistaken: Jeannette managed to put up one hell of a second round for three years and mostly with the open heart she always carried.
When I first met her, she was celebrating her year anniversary of being cancer free. When she was rediagnosed, she taught us all about hope and putting up a fight. It serves as a strong lesson to me - always one to give up the ship for little more than a few waves. Her love of life has driven her to no end with her family and friends. I have learned to always hold a stray string of hope and choose love over fear.
We had a fine last moment with her and I felt oddly more at ease than I expected. I was comforted in one last laugh and the chance to hold her hand and look in to her eyes. On our way home we talked about the photos streaming on D's computer from our wedding. She is so alive and full, literally round with life in the images. I thought about times even earlier on; when we were camping, when I made my first key lime pie under her guidance, when everything was so new and light and fresh to me. We were both much rounder then and looking back now on those faces and fun times, life seems so full.
|Green Mountain, August 2006|
*Dear friend, mother, sage - I'm so glad our souls crossed paths. You helped open my heart to many wonderful things and even now as it hurts, I hold firmly to the love you shared with Andy, Miss M, Gingersnap, and I. We treasure you deeply in our hearts. Wherever you are headed, please keep in touch! Know we are already missing you madly and will eat pumpkin bread always in your honor. So many good things, so much love here...