The sun was shining on my most recent Sabbath, which for me is always a Friday. I had a quiet morning, during which I made myself a coffee and decided to sit in the backyard. There is a fountain next door, so I closed my eyes and listened to the sound of running water. A bee leisurely buzzed around me, a squirrel scampered by, and what at least sounded like an owl offered a “hoot”. I had brought out a book, which my hand rested on. As I took a sip of my drink and went to read, I was struck by a vivid memory of my mom sitting on the dock in Killarney, the place where her parents built a cottage though we always called it the “camp”. She loved to sit and read for hours, listening to the waves. 

I began to cry.

My mom moved from the dock to the chair beside me. I could imagine her enjoying the same sounds as she sat with a coffee (always strong and black) and a selection of short stories. I looked up and suddenly pictured my dad walking toward the backyard, likely having gone to the corner store for the one thing I was missing for our meal. He liked to do that. I realize how I often think of my mom as sitting and my dad as walking. I make a mental note of that to reflect on another time.

My tears gathered momentum at this point. I was now surfing the wave of grief. 

I was then joined by Rick Tobias. Rick spent a lot of time in the backyard, especially over the last few years. He would make the slow walk down the driveway with his cane, a cooler of ice and coke zero, a bottle of scotch, and a couple of his prized glasses from Iona. In fact, it was at this time last year that we had our last little gathering before Rick’s death on May 18th. But on this sunny day, Rick was back. I could almost hear his greeting and the sigh as he settled into a chair. 

I find that once I’m fully engaged in a moment like this, it is easy to begin picturing even more of the people I now miss. While that might sound overwhelming (and yes, it can be), on this particular day it was not. Everyone looked happy and relaxed, dare I say, whole. And I got to remain in my seat and welcome them all to the party.

I looked up at the blue sky with my tear stained face and began to take some slow, deep breaths. I prayed out loud. I finally finished my coffee and noticed that my book had fallen from my lap to the grass. The flood of memories stilled itself. I agree with CS Lewis who said, “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” While I might wish for grief to be a linear journey, it is not. It ebbs and flows, and sometimes includes visitors on a sunny Sabbath day. 

2 thoughts on “Griefs, Observed

  1. Love your reflection! Our Mom is 100 years old and it isn’t hard for us to enter into the kind of memory you write about here, even as she is still with us. She is bedridden and even as she is experiencing a memory decline, those she raised are experiencing deeper memories drawn from the times we relied on her for nourishment and love.

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