"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

What Remains


The early days of my grieving for Kathleen were done in the cold dark of early winter. There was comfort in the starkness of weather that matched my interior. Bare trees and hard ground. Biting air driven into bone by fierce winds. Clouds, deep gray and heavy with moisture released in torrents of rain or damping blankets of snow.

Now in the lush green moistness of June I adjust to a world without a mother. And I find equal comfort in daily reminders of the irrepressibility of life.

This is the season of fledging. There's a new baby owl in the meadow below us. The bald eagles that have nested somewhere to the north spent a recent Sunday teaching a dark and awkward eaglet how to fly. Stellar's jay babies chase parents around the bird feeders, demanding to be fed in pre-teen boy voices.


Our wildflower area surprised us this year with a profusion of foxglove. The rich exuberance of color, texture and sheer abundance offers a visual delight that never fails to lift my heart, even on the harder days.

Although this has been a cooler and wetter year than normal, the world around me seems not to have noticed. Mornings are full of wild birdsong. The river chuckles and chortles its way to the ocean. Deer visit. Coyotes claim the night with their yips and  howls. Rabbits graze the lawn.

The wind is warm and gentle, so full of promise and hope, I long to be carried away in its arms.

After Mom's service last weekend, my youngest brother drove to our old home while the rest of us began the long trek back to our lives. He posted pictures on our family site, and I wasn't far into the slide show before I realized something was missing.

The place was sold to a large corporation whose plans for it never materialized. So it has sat for years just as it was left, a tiny ghost town consisting of house, garage, barns and overgrown trees. A caretaker lived in a trailer at the back of the property, but it was always possible to visit and step easily into childhood memory.

I drove out just two years ago—walked through the house, wandered outside a bit, and knew for the first time ever that I would never find the answers I was looking for there.

Still, it was a shock when I realized, looking at Geoff's pictures, that the house had been torn down. Nothing remains but a crumpled pile of aluminum roofing and flat ground. Something about the finality of the razed house drove home the finality of Mom's death, and the death of those remaining childhood hopes and illusions.

I watched picture after picture of bare ground surrounded by trees, a disorienting array of proof that our childhood home was really gone. In the background were the barns and old garage, all soft around the edges, slowly melting into the ground. Then, toward the end, there was a shot of yellow roses that seemed out of place with all that evidence of destruction.

Mom loved yellow roses, the wildly fragrant climbing kind, and Dad had planted these outside the milking parlor where she spent so much of her time. Here they were, untended and undaunted, growing into June against cold gray concrete, as they had every summer for decades. Hardy enough to withstand the cruel North Idaho winters. Hardy enough to thrive in the short summers. Hardy enough to survive from a beginning that might have preordained them to die without the care so many roses require.

My daughter is gone. My mother is gone. Someday, I will be gone. But until that time, I journey in a world that sings life at the top of its lungs. That shines light so bright the darkness has no chance to win. That reaches into my heart and releases love, gratitude and hope.

25 comments:

LauraX said...

oh Deb this is a perfect expression of the balance between suffering and joy...life just wants to continue growing and being, no matter what!

Mark Lyons said...

The weight of life...and death...and change can crush us. I'm so glad that you've not let that happen to you, but choose instead to continue to heal and live. I love you.

Mark

Terri Tiffany said...

I journey in a world that sings life at the top of its lungs.

A beautiful line!

Wanda said...

Love. Just Love.

Gammary said...

"...I journey in a world that sings life at the top of its lungs. That shines light so bright the darkness has no chance to win." The perfect antidote to my current state...crawling out from under the news of a scan that was less than perfect...

Thanks Deb

Mary

Bryce Daniels said...

Beautiful words! And I sense from someone with a beautiful soul. So sorry about your loss.

Cheryl directed me over here and I am so glad she did. Your site sings of inspiration.

Thanks for sharing.
Best-

DJan said...

Our lives together hold each other up, as we make our way through our own loves and losses. I too feel the explosion of life in the spring, and feel the pangs of know that my loved ones who have gone before me will never see these things on this side of the veil.

And as you say, one day we will be together again. Thank you for this thoughtful and poignant post.

Teresa aka Journaling Woman said...

The thread of life is thin. I'm not sure how we survive it as well as we do, except we must.

kario said...

Your ability to accept the gifts of life and weave them into the fabric of your world is so rare and glorious. I am blessed to know you and so pleased to read your words.

I sense a season of waiting about your family's former property is nearly over. I suspect its gifts are not yet spent.

Retired English Teacher said...

I love the imagery of beauty and victory over neglect that the yellow roses brought to my mind in this beautiful piece of writing. You truly have found a life that seems to radiate "a light so bright the darkness has no chance to win."

yaya said...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your Mother and of course your daughter..such sad times but you have written a beautiful post. Thank you for letting us share this time with you. The house may be gone, but without it's inhabitants it wasn't a "home" anymore...the home is where the memories are now being kept..in your heart.

She Writes said...

I have often written I have no mother... But to say it of my daughter and my mother, to say they are gone... Sending you my warmest thoughts, Deb. May summer comfort you like a soft blanket.

Lilith said...

It's been a hard year for you. The natural world gives me comfort as well, reminds me life is a circle, without end.

Jessica Nelson said...

Beautiful.

Lavi said...

I'm sorry to hear about your mother. At any age, losing a parent is a huge hit.

Those yellow roses are still there, showing you that life goes on. I'm glad you haven't let the loss of your mother break your spirit.

deb colarossi said...

okay, now I'm in tears.

Desiree said...

Wow! Your beautiful words leave me speechless, Deb!

Sending you loving hugs as you come to terms with the new realities of your life.

Ann Best said...

You're blessed, Deb, to have so much "nature" around you. It can be so healing in times of grief. Suffering and joy. You can't know one without the other.

Thanks for stopping by my blog today!
Ann Best, Memoir Author

Amber said...

THIS is BEAUTIFUL writing. You open yourself so much, and in such a flowing way...

I am happy I journey in a world where you are, Deb. Really, really, reallllly I am.

I love you.

:)

Barb said...

I admire your positive outlook, Deb - and your healing words. Perhaps some of us are like those yellow roses that flourished without being tended. Somehow they were strong enough to beat the odds.

Linda Myers said...

Beautiful and honest, as usual.

Cheryl said...

Oh Deb, I think I can only echo Mark's words and I also feel the pain and mixture of joy in my own life and though we've never met I have such a feeling of knowing you. I wish you increasing joy and thank you for continuing to visit my kangaroo blog and to answer your question - kangaroos are grass eaters with very different teeth to dogs so gnawing the cast off isn't really an option.

Deborah Barker said...

You say, "My daughter is gone. My mother is gone. Someday, I will be gone. But until that time, I journey in a world that sings life at the top of its lungs."
I could echo your words only with, My Father and my younger brother and yes, I too journey on and rejoice in the lilac that has sprung up unasked in our garden, in the foxgloves that did not seek permission to adorn our flowerbeds. We owe it to ourselves to see these things and feel again. Your words, as ever, say it all.

Katie Gates said...

Wow. What a beautiful reflection on death and on life.

Kathryn Grace said...

Deb, I am sorry that you suffer through yet another loss, and grateful for the strength that oozes from your words. I feel the sadness and perhaps depression in them as well and pray that every moment of every day and all through the nights you are surrounded by healing angels touching your soul, massaging the soreness from your heart and continuing to fill it with song.