we are all here. circling. circled. and rebecca is taking these small quiet hands. olivia and louise are there side by side hands in hands. we haven’t seen them since they could barley walk barely run, and now they are here, running the fields, collecting rocks introducing older cousins.
looking out the window through the laced curtain i only see a sea of faces, of fleece, of forgiveness. woolen hats, handmade, manhandled with the care and ease of a new england knitter. of couples getting back to the land. a hippie. and gay telling me later how they had dug a huge hole to plant a large tree upside down. a practical joke? a pagan ritual? nobody knows, and nobody will.
i watched d from my window, went down for a bit, mingling with a tiny ounce of regret- a tiny ounce of awkwardness usually associated with such occasion's as weddings, births, deaths, and tax collections. less awkward than my normal phone conversation, retail interaction, or first meeting. and that starts to set in. how unawkward death can be. how it shrugs up around us all like a scuffed knee, a lost dog. not nice, but too familiar. i walk out joining the circle. noticing how they undry eyes have aged since i last saw them all together. how rebecca doesn’t really look older after 7 years, but more stretched. more thin skinned. with the redness around the eyes of (somebody who can’t /won’t cry anymore)who cannot cry anymore. and the girls. the girls. so young, so loved here.
gay calls on tuesday to ask how i think it went, the ceremony, the circling. and did i catch alan, and did i catch that look in his eye. the look of grief that cannot be measured, that cannot be spoken here, but which runs as deep as any body of water on this land.
i didn’t see alan. althoughi thought i caught his shape out of the corner of my eye. still long, still spry. herding the children, shushing them with the gentle affection only a father can muster- or get away with. but i hadnt layed eyes on him. i hadn't met his glances. maybe nobody had, maybe nobody dared, especially rebecca, especially now.
And this is the way it went. f rom circle to circling. Down the path and everyone had brought flowers. I went out early this morning hoping to get a look at what gay says is the strong presence of a person. That his ashes spread out on sunday. nine days before are still floating there on the surface of the stream. That they are still holding on there. All i found were the frozen edges of banks filled with the preserved flowers. Our gift to saying goodbye to mark. frozen over now in a icy grave, a place to rest. Still keeping their color. Nine days. It’s roses and carnations and some purple flower i should be recognizing. And it hits me that i don’t know what the ashes of a man would look like hovering over the tides of a cold river.. that i would not recognize them and that would not find them here.