I keep "Minute" perpetually on my shopping list, hoping to find one on the grocery shelf tucked between the dried blueberries and granola. And then to find another and another and another. A strange way to seek immortality - no less bizarre than traipsing off through a jungle in search of some mythical fountain of life where a sip of bubbling water promises an additional breath for each breath drawn. To live another day - to experience one more hurricane, more casualties of war, a sunrise and another summer of the buzz of cicadas - with permission from life to get out of bed and to be a beginner again. Is one experience of body-surfing a wave into the beach not enough? The taste of banana taffy again? To hold the hand of my beloved? Or do I search for more time afraid that, like birth, death will only happen once?
I cannot imagine a soul apart from the body. And, I understand the dynamics of soul-attachment are not meant for me to know. But if I, my soul, am to float away up into the heavens upon whatever breeze that blows when I die, I would like to enjoy the ride with the body that I leave behind. There are those, perhaps many, who look forward to that day of detachment from disease, paralysis and fear that inhabits the corporeal. Yet, what is this the Psalmist writes, God keeps alive and restores souls? Does this not change the yearning for moving along after death if maintenance is still required?
I remember my life after death where my body no longer struggles against the struggles which a body longs for thrown into the pool where fear plays. Playful fear splashes in the neighbor's pool making cries mocking the pull of drowning. The mockingbird cries pulling drowning sorrows into the radiance of blue. Blue radiates, mirroring the drops of sorrow upon the neat page listing summer plans. Summer pages turn neatly as plans list according to the number of joyful shouts. I shout with joy counting the number of times I live after the memory of death.
What is the chance for destruction to follow the same path, by wind or by water or by fire, twisting, taking, turning, collecting possessions into its embrace? Is the death of one child not enough or must the demands of the demons who cry, More, make offerings a daily ritual, to be met with trembling and with tears once again?
"Well, alrighty then." - Sydney Marie Brotheridge b. December 28, 1995 d. June 9, 2018 Is the death of a daughter a fable or a myth Or a reality of grief that inflates one moment And then, after enough tears have dropped, Subsides into an uncomfortable calm Holding a picture with my arm Around her alive, smiling-faced body? Is the resting of my head on her shoulder Outside a skating rink during a birthday Celebration enough to protect her And, as often as I smile with her smile Or her smiling with my smile, can it happen All the time and everywhere? Is there enough time and can it be measured Between the first time I held this delicate child With a lifetime ahead of her and the last time I held her in Dar es Salaam as she breathed Her last breath perhaps hearing me whisper, “You are loved, Sydney Marie”? Is there a way to find a completely different Way with which to examine attachment To a life filled with enough demons of despair And with enough angels of shining brilliance, To find a way forward and not necessarily through Or over the abyss of deep hurt and great loss? Is the answer to the great question of Being Found in the act of a tiny body laid out On a stretcher being taken to the morgue Or in a ceremony at the foot of a mountain With enough gathered loved ones and friends Mourning a life joyfully lived and now complete?
I stare at a picture of the great metalled Ferris wheel from the 1893 Chicago World's Fair and lose myself in the number of people who went for a spin so long ago. Fifty years later, Picasso, stares into the cave of Lascaux and, upon seeing the dancing animals painted on the walls, declares, They've invented everything. And what about all the children that died before the age of five or the mothers that died in childbirth before the miracles of modern medicine? Is there nothing so distinctly sweet, so sweet, as real bananas picked from the Peruvian rainforest an hour before breakfast? There I stand in a picture from seven years ago with my arms around a daughter who no longer exists. That she lives in my memory, yes. And in some form of a heavenly afterlife, perhaps. Sometimes I pause, shake my hands and arms in the air, convulsively, and grin from ear to ear. I am mindful of the number of times I have returned from wherever I have gone. Many have not.
prodigal reading will eventually cover all possibilities before the time when we each walk along alone behind our own funeral procession
Crier, Trumpeter and Caller, who descends from heaven above overflowing graveyards with the declaration, Death is not final, come down gently upon the softened shoulders of those who grieve a daughter that left the land too early, for in our hearts she still lives. Amen.
homebase can be mortal with all the starts & returns of puzzled faces who once again did not understand the point of Sunday's sermon & come only in the hope of loan forgiveness for last night's dinner tab itemizing roasted leg & puree of soul which never tasted so good trust the story & remember how richly good grandma's cranberry sauce tasted each season of giving thanks for things known & for things unknown & how she would smile when asked the secret of her recipe & say, If I told you it wouldn't be a secret & how she whispered with a voice sounding of the end in that last week, ginger beer.
I learned to work like this from Sisyphus who, tired as a dung beetle after rolling the last dung ball of the day up its small food hill, let his ball go rolling into the sea where ocean waves like eyelids rose and fell, leaking salty tears upon the feet of the child who trembled like the slow, roll of bones turning over in graves of saints long-dead and gone, never to tread again upon the sacred ways, red as worn, sanctuary carpet in the morning light.