Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Rainbows & Long Sleeves

Lately I’ve been thinking back to my one-year anniversary getaway with Chris. (Yes, I started calling him by his birth name versus his nickname, “Gus”.) We headed down to McKenzie Bridge, Oregon, and on that Sunday at high noon we decided to warm up under the sun by the bonfire pit. Chris and I were sitting there, basking delightfully, and suddenly we looked up to witness the strangest phenomenon, something I’d never seen – or even heard of – before: Fully circling the sun, thick and bright and vibrant, was a rainbow! I mean, it just closed in the sun in the most beautiful way – and there wasn’t a cloud in sight. Between the rainbow and sun the sky itself was actually darker, almost the color of an eclipse – this darkness “filled in” every space of the circle. The phenomenon lasted for maybe a half hour or so. When we came in a bit later from lunch, the rainbow had dissipated, leaving the sun alone in all its glory.

This good omen has stuck with me these past few weeks, guiding me, especially last week when it seemed like the Universe wanted to shake things up a bit by ushering in a rattle of death and sickness. Within maybe a ten day period, here’s the news:

*C’s aunt passed away – she was a bitter woman who wreaked havoc in her will, greatly saddening her brother and his wife.
*J got rushed to the emergency room after extreme pain in her abdomen, plus some scary bleeding. I met J at the hospital, and held her hand, and thought about Life and Death and God, so surprised at my calmness. It wasn’t until the doctor came in, saying it was a urinary tract infection and she “just” needed to take these antibiotics, that I let out my breath and realized everything I’d been holding in for that hour or so.
*L, an old friend and coworker from Wisconsin, wrote to a group of us to let us know that her beloved dog of fifteen years, Eva, had passed away.
*M’s stepfather died of pneumonia. She’d just been back east a few weeks ago visiting her family – it was a pretty tough and draining visit – and then her stepfather died so quickly and unexpectedly. She flew back at the end of last week for the funeral, filled with many complicated feelings.
*My roommate headed to California this past weekend for the wedding of one of her best friends. The bride’s father died of a heart attack – twenty-four hours before the wedding. They went through with the wedding, and were able to embrace the balance of life and death and bring a celebration of his life into the ceremony. What strength!
*T passed away here at work. He’d lived here for many years. I was able to say goodbye to him about an hour and a half before he left us. I went into his room and held his hand and listened to his rattling breath. He’s at peace now, free and floating.

So there you have it – quite an intense several days, to say the least. But the balance was able to sift through me and claim me. It almost felt like I was watching myself objectively, stepping outside myself – like I was standing on the edge of a big, beautiful ring. Which brings me back to that phenomenon in the sky last month. How mysterious and breathtaking and awe-inspiring Life is!

I’ll end with this anecdote: yesterday, some of that calmness had started to leave me. I was starting to feel overwhelmed with what’s going on with our government, with wondering how cold family members can sometimes be. (I just heard from someone close to me that her sister gathered a box of pictures to be shown at her memorial service someday after she’s cremated; her sister – angry and bitter toward her children – chose to cut and tear the faces of her children out of the pictures so, when she died, they’d find their faceless selves in this box, then aware of “what they mean to her.”) In addition, C is crazed at work, J and J are sometimes going head-to-head on the home front, and the list goes on. When C and I chatted last night, we just vented – in a healthy, therapeutic way – about the state of this country, of the world, and about the skewed priorities of so, so many people. Why, you ask, am I sharing this? Because it ends on an optimistic note, one that brings me back to the yin-and-yang nature of things (and reminds me of the yin-and-yang tattoo on T’s arm that I noticed for the first time when saying my goodbye). See, I woke up this morning and after writing decided to go for a power walk. There I was, speeding along, and I passed this recently renovated apartment building that I’ve been impressed with. Right as I walked by the door, this young girl bopped out, dressed in bright pink and wearing arm stockings. She was about three, maybe four. I had my headphones on, but I saw she was talking to me so I took them off and turned around. “It’s chilly today,” she said, “and you’re wearing short sleeves. You should be wearing long sleeves like me.” She held out her arms, revealing the striped pattern on her arm warmers. “That sounds good,” I said. “I didn’t know it was chilly before I left the house, but I’ll put on long sleeves for work.” She nodded then repeated in a sweet and concerned tone, “You really should be wearing a different shirt. Learn from me. I’m helping!” I answered, “Thank you – I appreciate that. It means a lot you’re helping me out. Have a nice day!” Then I turned around and started down the sidewalk. She called to me one last time, “Make sure to stay warm!” and I shouted a final acknowledgment and headed home.

See, there are people out there who have our back, who want us to stay warm on chilly mornings. There are children dressed in bright pink who make us marvel at innocence. There are beautiful skies and weird rainbows and people to comfort you when you are dying, or grieving, or feeling lost. There is balance. Everything is part of a circle, a cycle.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

No one on the planet is more excited than me for August 9th --

Friday, July 08, 2011

Passage of the Day

"What did Time smell like? Like dust and clocks and people. And if you wondered what Time sounded like it sounded like water running in a dark cave and voices crying and dirt dropping down upon hollow box lids, and rain. And, going further, what did Time look like? Time looked like snow dropping silently into a black room or it looked like a silent film in an ancient theater, one hundred billion faces falling like those New Year balloons, down and down into nothing. That was how Time smelled and looked and sounded. And could almost touch time."

Ray Bradbury, The Martian Chronicles