Wednesday’s Word: Great Ocean, Take My Grief

I wanted to write a short story today. I really did, something richly arresting, bright-toned but real. And almost did, as my writing habits are so ingrained a story would have let me shape it and set it free upon this page. Yet what sort of story would it have become?–for elegies of loss are lately becoming a deafening refrain.

But my sister-in-law passed away this afternoon from the damage wrought by that heinous thing, cancer. She has been one of my valued sister warriors. A survivor of life’s harrowing and strange times. A woman whose heart had such breadth and width, whose mind was tough, quick, coiled and ready to work. Any work–even work for abandoned or forgotten creatures. She stood steady amid the draining minutiae of living and knew how to yet find the glimmers of good.

We haven’t seen each other much in decades; we moved, they moved, days rushed us forward, took time away from us. We visited her and my brother-in-law last autumn in Michigan. She was frail then, and persistently alive. Quiet as in a cocoon yet available as she could be. We used to talk a mile a minute, smoking and drinking coffee. Laughing. Her eyes missed nothing, spoke of all she did not say.

I think she still missed nothing of importance. She listened well. But no more.

This is the second loss in a month. First, my brother Gary, now Sherril. The ache is a flame that cannot cauterize such pain; it can feel like danger, this diminishing of the heart’s natural fullness. The remainder after death: an abyss of a surprisingly darker sort. And in it  the rising volume of sorrow. Tears can barely do their job, there are too many, and yet not ever enough.

I know, of course–how can we avoid knowing it despite attempts to do so? it waits in our personal realm, our daily news — that we live. And then we die. But each time a dying takes something out of us, a gigantic thing not a small one as it leaves the new absence. Like a drowning in the wake behind a mighty ship. We struggle to keep afloat despite the impulse to slip under. I think some days I am weeping for the world, not just my family, not just friends, but all of us.

There is this bone-deep yearning for more time, more love and stories, more moments when you even do no t one noteworthy thing…. but simply be with one another. Experience has such quality if we only give it its due. Nothing should be ignored or wasted, not the hurt, not bafflement or even outrage. Never the energy of compassion, the ease of simple appreciation. No words ought to be tossed here and there or out the window as if they are useless, or recyclable. They are not, not ever, not really. They are potent. Meant to tell us things we need to hear–and to say. Otherwise, we require the sort of silence out of which Divine Love, a harmony we do not even understand can rise. Inform us of more that needs to be known and done.

The words that she and I shared were quite good enough, even really good. Those conversations, those times are held close, pull me into them as if only yesterday…A dry wit. A rapid fire comeback. We exchanged lines that rang with our truths hidden in a raised eyebrow and fast look, little truths that swelled inside our words with balloons of life and respect.

We always wanted Sherril and my brother-in-law, Bill, to come to Oregon, explore the Northwest, share adventures and belly laughs and even music we might make right here, but it just never got to happen. So today I am posting pictures of the Pacific Ocean that Marc and I enjoyed Sunday for Father’s Day.

I am wanting sea spray to flick its feathery tails at Sherril, for glossy sunshine to slide about her being, the great blueness to carry her far and to whole soul joy. But she is already there, wherever she is. I’m just counting on it.

Let a hallelujah love transform you, be ever prefect as the perfection that fills each star and all gaps between. Oh warrior sister you’ve made it through this quick bitter this long sweet life and now it is done it is done

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Oops, I Flew the Coop Again!

San Diego Day 1, 2 066

I got so busy getting ready for our trip to San Diego, California, that I truly forgot to post last Friday, so please consider this in place of the abandoned post…

We flew here Saturday and after a glitch or two we settled into a new suite at the Downtown Courtyard Marriott Hotel that is lovely. It was once a stately, mammoth old bank. Then we commenced our explorations last night in the Gaslamp District for dinner–a hopping place–and later slept  well. Today we mostly enjoyed the lively harbor area not far from the hotel. We walked about 4 miles starting along the Embarcadero, by boats of all sorts including tall  ships, humongous cruise ships, yachts and sailboats and the USS Midway from WWII. We even saw a speed boat reminiscent of  a shark!

Marc has visited here often in connection with business but this is my first time.  I am enjoying it immensely. Our suite is perfect as you might imagine from nearly the top floor and a private veranda from which we easily see city and water views– a real treat, as my birthday is coming up this week! Tomorrow a 2 hour boat Hornblower boat cruise awaits us. Then maybe we’ll head out to the desert…or find trails to trod beyond the city bustle. And we will look for a great bookstore and sample more restaurants, the last of which abound. There is a lot going on in this place!

Here, April breezes are soft and toasty enough to come back to the rooms a bit pink–Marc has a very bright nose, already, I’m afraid–and very relaxed. We Pacific Northwesterners have a hunger for spring sunshine. And we both were in great need of rest and recreation, so are pleased to be here at last.

Below are a few of the first shots offered for your viewing pleasure. (I already snapped over 200…) I look forward to writing a couple of trip posts and to sharing plenty of other photographs upon our return. Click on each to see a larger view, as usual.

See you in ten days!

 

 

 

Friday’s Quick Pick: Oh Pacific Ocean, You are a Grand Sea

All photos by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

Carry me along the rim of this world,
through capricious magic of sky-lit
waters where formidable tales are made
of labor, beguilement, exploration, survival.

Take me to heights and depths where life
shines, burrows, vanishes; light shadow dances;
gold and greens, silver and blues are silken
transparency and density of salt, fishes, shell, plant.

Bring me to the uncertain edge of capriciousness,
rapture of the seventh wave; cover me with lace of spray, sand and stone beneath feet. I will sing a song
of kingdoms built of the tumult and peace of the sea.

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Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: Sea Drift

038
Pacific Ocean, 9-17, Cynthia Guenther Richardson

Sea’s breath
cashmere mist
cooling veil
lain upon
the flaring fall
bumptious minds
good fortune’s reprieve:
drift into moon’s realm
chalice of evening star

sip
deeply

Friday’s Quick Pick/Poem: The View You Seek

Yachats trip, last day 118
All photographs by Cynthia Guenther Richardson

This life as we imagine it draws breath,
expands and shrinks as is required, while
a universe births and thrives in a water drop.
It is a signal of more, a homily for humility.
Yet the scramble of cogitation thrills us and
we are diverted into mazes, veering off course.
Angst-ridden inquiry tends toward dead ends.

Try instead a pilgrimage of quietude.
Be chased and adorned by salty tang of sea,
let spontaneous wind usurp the worry, fear.
It matters less that you win a solution
and more that a stream of tawny or aqua sky
slips over the aching slope of your shoulders.
Any thoughts you hold close will captivate you.

This cave brought you here to lead you from
yourself, mend cracks and knots you’ve sustained
as has this earth with its eons of wisdom, power, beauty.
Why do you hope to find an enduring answer
within ego’s declarative restraints, its petty smallness?
Sit awhile with volcanic sand and agate, crab and whale,
wave and wing, the headland a bulwark against storms.

Visions and knowledge arise and find you here;
your compass trembles, horizon shines, skin sighs.
The soul does not need to solve one single thing,
nor travel fast or far to find its truth and be at home.
It feels familiar because it has made a place here, in you.

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