|see them trying in the gray light|
Outside our bedroom window (upstairs) and outside my study window (downstairs) we can see some brave magnolia buds that are broadening into blossom. You'd think they'd been in northeastern Ohio long enough to know that these early appearances are not all that wise. (Snow is in our Friday forecast!) But there they are. The spring light has told them (fooling them?) that it's time to emerge, so they have, even though ill winds are stirring, even though Death can't wait for them to appear so that he can make them wither and disappear for another year. Old story: those who create, those who destroy.
We humans are quite adept at seeing in blooming trees our own emerging hopes--just as we look, in the fall, at the changing/falling leaves and get some intimations of mortality. Sometimes it's stunning to me to think that any of us can ever say "Next month ..." or "Next year" ... or even "Tomorrow." Human arrogance. We seem to be the only animals that know they are going to die, but we spend lots of energy in pretending it won't happen, We even have the audacity of a future tense.
I certainly spent much of my life thinking that only other people died. The old, weak, careless, deserving (!?!), etc. Of course, there were deaths close to me that stunned me--that made me begin to modify this naive (and even cruel) belief. My Osborn grandparents. My uncle Ronald Osborn, his wife (Naomi), his daughter (Virginia--killed in an auto accident at 18). My father-in-law, my mother-in-law--who were so supremely kind to me. My father. November 30, 1999. Yesterday. Five minutes ago.
In the last two months alone two of my dearest friends have died--Dorothy Munson Steele, whom I knew (and loved) from Hiram College days and Mike Lenzo, who, early in my career (I was 23!), became the building principal at the Aurora Middle School where I was about to start my third year of teaching seventh graders. Mike changed my life and remained a dear friend until Death decided to kill the bloom once again.
My mother is hanging on at 97, but I am expecting a phone call any day. Death has been toying with her--as he did with my father. And--I swear!--when he knocks on my door, before he has even a chance to say, "It's your turn," I am going to punch his rotten face so hard that he will get a slight understanding of what he's been doing to the rest of us.
And now--at 72--I know perfectly well my time is coming. I mean, I've known it for a long time, but now ... I know it. There's a difference.
I realize it's part of the cycle of things here in our sublunary world. Nothing remarkable about it whatsoever.
Except, of course, this time it is I.
And that, as the poet said (sort of), makes all the difference.