I’ve been lurking lately. Silent, but not absent.
This summer, I met a lovely woman. She was smart, open and vibrant, with a welcoming manner that invited and encouraged more interaction. She was curious about others, observant and thoughtful. She was recently married, and was exuberently in love and delighting in the intoxicating feeling of knowing that you are deeply loved. She was beautiful, vibrant, happy.
I knew she’d had health problems and she became ill again not long after our first meeting. I was hoping for good news, as I wanted to see her again and get to know her better. I was away, on a business trip, when I saw an email noting the news of her death.
I was shocked and saddened, surprised by the suddenness and finality. I felt cheated, I was angry at my loss — I wanted her as a friend. Then I felt sadness for her husband, her beloved. I haven’t been able to shake the sense of loss. Instead, it flows in like an unexpected tide, at small instances. Gone too soon.
* * *
I was in Colorado recently and over the course of three days, I saw the beautiful aspen leaves in the trees on the mountainside progressively turn from green to yellow. I saw them shimmy in the breeze. They remind me of laughter.
I also saw the mist awakening, slowly rising in the morning in the mountains. It’s one of my favorite sights, when the clouds come to visit us close to ground offering a taste of sky, a message of solace.
On the last day, we were treated to a glistening coat of snow on the mountain tops.
* * *
On another trip, also in Colorado, I am leaving the car rental lot at the airport, and approaching the security gate, I see two little wild bunnies. It’s all concrete, as far as the eye can see from there, and yet, these two little warm creatures scamper to hide behind a curb. They’re incongrous, but appear to be quite accustomed to this asphalt environment. I pull up as gently as I can.
I hand the paperwork to the man at the security gate and tell him about the bunnies I just saw. He looks a little surprised, but grins. “I feed them raisin bran,” he said, as if confessing a sin. He goes on to tell me more about them; one is quite young and the other quite brave. They watch for him, and he feeds them. They’re not pets, but they are companions.
Thank you for taking care of them, I say as I drive away.
* * *
The suddeness of the loss of my would-be friend gave rise to thinking about other losses — the ones that slip away a little at a time, like dreams fading. We were driving across Oklahoma in the very late hours of the night, close to dawn. The stars were brilliant, like I haven’t seen in ages. Then, all at once, one of them raced across the sky. A shooting star.
As dawn began to appear, I could see the frost on the ground, and later, mist rising from the low lying areas. Such a combination — ice and dew and fog.
I think of my sister, who used to love to sing in the car. And then she stopped. It’s still her; she’s still the same — but just a little less. Does she miss singing? Or would it feel foreign to her now? Maybe it was just the shooting star portion of her life. What else will be gone when I see her next? At least I got to see the shooting star.