“Well you went left and I went right As the moon hung proud and bright You would have loved it here tonight”
These lines are from Mumford & Son’s “Home,” a song Jim did not hear from here.
The beagles were anxious to explore their new neighborhood today, and I was eager to take my new camera with us now that my daughter has explained to me how its contents magically can be downloaded. (Evidently I dropped the old one on cement one time too many. It has solidified in place, its lens half-open but unseeing and immovable, like Lot’s wife looking back towards Sodom.)
I got this small point-and-shoot camera just in time to capture some last photographs outside our old home along with first pictures from where we have relocated. I realized only after my daughter explained the magical downloading process that all 366 of the photographs I have taken with the new camera are of the outdoors–as Jim’s almost invariably were.
The day I left our old home for good and did not look back, I had taken a final shot of that persistent lone heart-shaped hydrangea on a bush Jim had planted. It blossomed first in cornflower blue, and I was certain it soon would be joined by abundant brethren.
But two more seasons passed, and that single heart remained alone among the green. It recently turned a Victorian red-violet as it prepared to return to sepia.
On the tiny lawn outside our new home I have placed a heaping helping of the season’s political signs.
“Think you’ve got enough signs out there?” my daughter teased me, as Jim would have.
A cousin’s comment on that post has had me thinking about another essay in the same book, concerning what we take to be coincidental: “I believe that people laugh at coincidence as a way of relegating it to the realm of the absurd and of therefore not having to take seriously the possibility that there is a lot more going on in our lives than we either know or care to know. Who can say what it is that’s going on, but I suspect that part of it, anyway, is that every once and so often we hear a whisper from the wings that goes something like this: ‘You’ve turned up in the right place at the right time. You’re doing fine. Don’t ever think that you’ve been forgotten.’”
Well, it may be wishful thinking on my part, but perhaps I did show up in the right places at the right times today.
I heard whispers and roars, and was led into color and light.
It began early in the morning, as a dollop of sun hit a spot on the floor as light streamed through the outline of a flowering tree Jim had planted. I felt my breath catch when I looked down and saw dancing upon my bare foot a single bright segment of sunlight, quavering from a morning breeze that had shaken the tree through which it shined, forming a shimmering arrow laced with leaves. It pointed me outside, towards that sepia swath I described only weeks ago.
The swath is not sepia anymore.
Only handfuls of straw stalks remain at bottom edges where they are being pushed out by broad, healthy leaves which exuberantly have erupted to replace the sadly drooping flora I had been unable to envision recovering green.
My sister-in-law today sent me a quote from Albert Camus: “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” She is at least the second among my sisters-in-law to suggest to me that somewhere within my core is stronger stuff than I think.
Camus also was the source of one of the more interesting takes I had read upon the concept of “living in the moment”–something my husband Jim perfected as an art. Camus‘ Sisyphus came to grips with his infinitely repeating task, illustrating “the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks,” comprising a universe “neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart.”
Jim was able to view in an astoundingly productive way his own objectively immense struggles. Indeed, I’m not convinced he ever thought of himself as struggling. Nor did he do “battle” with the cancer that took his life; he accepted it, and his heart remained full and fully engaged with nature, with people, with life.
Among the seasons of the past year, winter transitioned particularly grudgingly to spring. Jim finally came home on a sunny, spring-like day as winter was coming to a close. On his last day, spring’s eve, it snowed–not gingerly, but in plump white, sugar-cube sized flakes.
The quote about the depth of winter dovetailed with some of my thoughts about the seasons, and my thought to highlight the lovely poem one of our sons read at his father’s memorial service, Amy Gerstler’s In Perpetual Spring.