Monday, October 21, 2013

October Thoughts

"A lifetime isn't long enough for the beauty of this world
and the responsibilities of your life."
Mary Oliver

Once again Mary says it perfectly. Recently I am feeling blown away by the wonderful things around me: sharing time with old friends, the glory of autumn, the warm weather, the gathering of families at a church event, the gathering of poets at a reading, and, of course, having the opportunity to see the Red Sox win the American League Pennant from Section 30 of Fenway Park. In between all this, there are the things one must do that sometimes include saying goodbye to those things that are most precious.
Last week I had the opportunity to have lunch with one of my oldest friends (not in age; she's actually a bit younger than I, but in the length of time we've known each other). We met in college. We've been together at some of life and history's most important moments. I was there when she married her husband who is also a friend, when her children were born, and when, from a small black and white television in their first home, we watched Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.

We always look forward to being together. We share memories and laughs, and not a few tears. Sometimes they go together. At exactly the same moment that I am filled with the exquisite beauty of the maple's gold, I know it means winter is coming. Last week my friend told me that her husband's cancer has returned. Complicated by other medical issues, surgery is not an option. An appointment next week will determine treatment.
I wonder how to hold the beauty of our friendship, the richness of our history together with the weight of her sadness. Life isn't long enough to understand this. Yet, somehow, I suspect they are coupled. To be able to be there for my friend now as she cries, admits that she fears being alone--this is a thing of beauty undergirded by the many happy memories we share.
Much of the poetry I have written has been about spring, rebirth, and especially the persistence of the crocus cutting through the last of winter to bloom. It is a message I will return to, but  at this moment in my life--maybe because I just attended my 50th high school reunion--I am appreciating the beauty of that single gold leaf that started as a tiny bump at the end of the branch, that grew to a full green palm, that day after day gathered a piece of sun to do the tree's work, that danced in the breeze, that weathered the hurricane, and that now as it relinquishes its hold on the branch where it began, descends in a magnificent golden pirouette.

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