Why do you stand looking up at the sky?—Acts 1:11
It wasn't just wind chasing
thin, gunmetal clouds
across a loud sky;
it wasn't the feeling that one might ascend
on that excited air
rising like a trumpet note,
and it wasn't just my sister's water breaking,
her crying out,
the downward draw of blood and bone . . .
It was all of that,
mud and new grass
pushing up through melting snow,
the lilac in bud by my front door
by last week's ice storm.
Now the new mother, that leaky vessel,
begins to nurse her child,
beginning the long good-bye.
--by Kathleen Norris
I had that phrase "thin, gunmetal clouds" in my head all day. It turns out that another long good-bye ended yesterday, as a woman I've known for most of my life lost a long battle with cancer. There really are no words, but I moved through my day in a fog. I wasn't personally close to this woman, but she is an important member of our small town and a good friend of my mother's. She and my mom were both part of a sort of "cancer club" [my phrase] of 6 or so women living within a few mile radius, all of whom have breast cancer. Creepy.
I'm not quite sure how it happened, but I found myself in the village graveyard. She isn't there, I'm not sure where she'll end up, but this is a quiet, starkly beautiful place that I spent hours in as a child, playing kick-the-can or reading and painting. It was comforting to climb through the hedge and sit on the spongy earth amidst budding trees and stone memorials. I don't want to look away from death. I know many of the names on those stones.
Little C knew I was sad, but she wasn't. She liked running through the graveyard and finding hiding places. Her life-force is so strong.
Afterward, we took the long way home and investigate the ice on a pond in the woods near our house. All around us "ice-out" is happening on lakes and ponds, though "our lake" (the one at the bottom of our road that we pass daily) still has ice on it for another day or two. Have you ever really looked at ice?