When I was Kit’s age, my father used to make a great show of the burden of having daughters. He’d say, “Do you think I’ll ever get her married off?” right after introducing me to a buddy of his. It was a twisted display–deriving from the same “pride” he felt in my younger brother that manifested with wrestling matches he’d spontaneously stage. As the relatives all gathered at my grandparents for the holidays, “OK, let’s see if Jack can take Tim this year,” was usually out of my dad’s mouth before the presents were under the tree.
I told Jack that it explains a lot when you think about it. He said how about let’s not think about it.
The day Peter died, I had the feeling that he was straddling both worlds and inhabiting my consciousness. He was large in me so I tried to think profound and worthy things. I opened my mind so he could see the love and respect I had felt for him with a montage of memories—me borrowing his tux shirt for the cocktail party (which delighted him entirely), me gently dusting the myriad of trinkets in his cottage where I first stayed a few years ago, then the warm comfort of being a true “muttel” (family) in his beloved ancient home in the Highlands of Scotland when I was there last fall.
Before I climbed the stairs to “my” room, I would say goodnight to him in the kitchen where he was setting the table for the next day’s breakfast, his nightly ritual. Almost everything happened in the kitchen because it was in the warmest room of the big, drafty house. On the day Peter died, I closed my eyes and saw us there. We were having tea. I showed him the reverence I felt as I watched him make cheese straws (from his mother’s recipe) while he told me what it was like to be at Normandy Beach on D-Day.
Peter gave me new words because he knew I needed them . . . he didn’t have to ask why. How did he do that? Sometimes he would talk to me about his first wife, the one who really loved him, and other times about the second wife, who really didn’t, but only when she was out of earshot. The people in your life are epochal, he explained. There were so many more things I wanted to know from him. A man of 95 years has a lot of life figured out . . . especially the part where right up until the day he died, he could still let himself love someone even though he knew it would break his heart in the end.
You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional Love – that is where you came from and where you will return. You came here to learn personal Love. Universal Love. Messy Love . . . sweaty Love . . . crazy Love. Broken Love. Whole Love . . . infused with Divinity. Lived through the Grace of stumbling . . . demonstrated through the beauty of . . . messing up. Often.You didn’t come here to be perfect. You already are. You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And then to rise again into remembering. Jane gave me this piece during the August Moon, and said she didn’t know who wrote it. But I do.
For a long while I sat with my dog by the last fencepost and thought, well,
here it is, the last fence post.
I wrote my name in the sooty sand thinking of what Tewi told me about my dream of the burning beach.
A lyric has been added to the song the sea teaches the gulls . . . I heard my name in it clearly.
When it was time, and it was, I got up and walked farther forever, right on the edge of water
and land . . . my footprints covered by the waves tatting loose, lacey patterns in the sand.