Boston Common, July 2014
I’ve been spending a lot of time as a visitor in That Hospital. You know the one.
But I have slipped outside the room, outside over-chilled hospital passages so wide that patients can be wheeled past each other on bulky stretchers, with room to spare for anxious, fast-moving throngs of family and friends.
Outside is the city I still love in summer: an architectural melange, families on the Common (I stop for several and offer to relieve the dad of his camera so the entire family will be preserved in their pictures), the light and color of ever-changing flowers broken into pieces by sharp shadow, animals in bronze and in life.
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.