Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Flooding the Meadows Green and Fair

Well time has a funny way
Of doubling back on itself
And showing the things that really last
Was it just yesterday
You left for greener pastures
Or was that way back in the past

This very morning is the 28th day from what has been to date the worst day of my wife's life. It was four weeks ago today that my mom-in-law Suzy B lost the epic battle she had waged against that unrelenting bastard, cancer, for the final four-plus years of her life. It was four weeks ago today that everything changed for Margaret, for her big brother Frank and most poignantly for their father Joe.

One wonders perhaps was it "only" four weeks ago that Nona died or was it "already" four weeks ago? An argument could be advanced that it was both. Mr. Parker's point is an excellent one about the vagaries of time. Time is the unit of measurement for one's history. And history, after all, belongs to the mind of the teller.

I have borne witness to more than my proportionate share of death and dying and, sadly, a consequence of being surrounded in one's life by those you love is that eventually you shall say goodbye to all of them or them to you, which means that the pain train will make many more stops at my front door. Mine is by no means a unique condition or a unique life experience. If only it were then perhaps I would have the fortitude necessary to spare my wife, my children, my own siblings and my mother from any further grieving or mourning in their respective lives. Sadly, I cannot stop it. This recurring misery is something that I cannot stop nor shield them from experiencing. Hard times do indeed come for us all with a certainty typically reserved for the omnipresent ticking of a clock. My own impotence frustrates me. As I suspect it frustrates all of us.

It was with more than a bit of relief that I greeted the dawn this morning, being that we have finally reached the final day of the longest month in recorded history. While none of us knows what July has in store for us, here 'neath the snow globe we are rooting hard for a trajectory change. Perhaps the coming together this past Saturday for a truly beautiful event, the wedding of Megan and Adam, was the elixir needed to bring about just such a change.

The final four years of Suzy B.'s life were a struggle. A life that had once been dominated by visits and appointments of a social nature suddenly was replaced by one pockmarked by doctor's appointments, chemotherapy sessions and in-patient hospitalizations. A smile was stolen - and some days perhaps a laugh as well - but always with a sense of anticipatory dread. The sensation was one of knowing that the other shoe was indeed aloft and we were all captive to it, waiting for it to complete its fall. And for most of the four weeks that have passed since she died, even stolen smiles and laughter had been in short supply.

On Saturday however, for the first time in what seemed like forever, laughter and smiles abounded. The sense of Sue's absence from the proceedings was palpable. Yet in spite of her absence - and perhaps because of it - the positive feelings present in the church and later in the reception hall were overwhelming. Happiness and joy carried the day - kicking sadness and sorrow's asses to the curb. Buoyed by the beauty of the event and the significance of the commitment that these two young people were making to each other, all of us assembled to bear witness to the day's events clapped and cheered, smiled and laughed.

And it was OK that we did so. It was OK that after the hell that life has dragged Joe, Frank, Margaret and the rest of the family through this month to rise up as one, and in the voice of one, remind ourselves that in spite of all that has occurred we do indeed remember laughter.

Well I hear the trees grow tall,
By that retaining wall
And there's always a rainbow in the sky.
Maybe I'll write a letter
Cos I've heard that life's much better
On the other side of the reservoir.

Is it "only" four weeks or is it "already" four weeks since life here 'neath the snow globe changed irrevocably for all of us? It is both. And it shall always be. The marker is in the water, bobbed around perhaps by the movement of the waves but affixed nevertheless to the bottom by a sturdy cable. It is now where it shall always be, which is in our line of sight helping to serve as a compass point by which to navigate our course.


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