Nothing is different today except that a particular possibility ended. It was just a little flicker of a possibility and it wasn’t meant to be, and from this there are no terrible repercussions, just a tiny gasp of loss, a pause, a change in path. There were wisps of clouds in the sky, an autumnal slant of light, the air like a sigh. But I cherish hopeful beginnings, however they conclude, and I think if we walk the detours with courage and love, we can see with clarity how much is still here.
I was reminded of a huge and formative loss as well today because my brother happened to send me an email about the final days of our father’s life. My brother was only eleven when our father died, experiencing it all as a frightened little boy, and he no doubt repressed a lot of it. I wasn’t sure what prompted him to suddenly talk about it now, maybe concerns about his own health, but it sure took me by surprise how much pain it still evoked. It seemed I had been summoned upon to say something of comfort to him, though, and I drew upon the ways I’ve tried to cope. I urged him to focus on happy moments and joys our father experienced, for these were real too.
And I told him to try to suspend the tyranny of chronology sometimes and not let the ending negate all the good things that came before it, because even disappointing outcomes do not diminish the comfort and impetus dreams bring while their promise and truth seem viable. (Yeah, I concede that it’s a tricky formula to follow.) I also reminded him that our father instilled good qualities in us, and that his life continues to matter, and that surely some sort of spirit and consciousness transcends the physical span of a life.
And that got me to thinking about faith, “a great weight hung on a small wire”, as the poet Anne Sexton put it. How simple it used to be. When I was a little girl I even heard an angel sing, or so I believed. I was lying in my bed and the voice came from the corner of the room where the ceiling meets the wall, a silvery river of voice, and I never questioned that it was an angel. In those days I spoke to God silently but often, and had no doubt that he heard me and took a personal interest in me. Now of course all that comical childhood clarity is gone, and I stumble around in the dark, grasping at poems or looking at the stars, trying to make some sense of things or do some good somewhere.
Anyway, the world offers sufficient distractions, and this quiet day proceeded. I dusted bookshelves, laundered sheets, ate an orange. I read and wrote and rode my bike. The highlight was talking to our faraway daughter, when my heart experienced what can only be described as a brimming over with love. And when I began this post, I thought it was about loss. But it somehow became about finding.
God does not need too much wire to keep Him there, just a thin vein, with blood pushing back and forth in it, and some love. – Anne Sexton