“Glorious our fall, since in a noble cause. The bold attempt alone demands applause.”
—John Steinbeck, East of Eden
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;
When death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering;
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
Let me go where’er I will,
I hear a sky-born music still:
It sounds from all things old,
It sounds from all things young,
From all that’s fair, from all that’s foul,
Peals out a cheerful song.
It is not only in the rose,
It is not only in the bird,
Not only where the rainbow glows,
Nor in the song of woman heard,
But in the darkest, meanest things
There alway, alway something sings.
‘T is not in the high stars alone,
Nor in the cup of budding flowers,
Nor in the redbreast’s mellow tone,
Nor in the bow that smiles in showers,
But in the mud and scum of things
There alway, alway something sings.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Music
“It sounds from all things old,
It sounds from all things young…”
The cherished and ineffable, often painful to witness and always complex and impossible to comprehend relationship that is the mother/daughter bond, the struggle and limitations of the human form and the shedding of its shell, and the journey that is life on Earth and the ending of that life to begin again have all been singing to me.
I heard their music and the songs were sweet, sincere and sacred.
To many death and dying are considered the “darkest, meanest things” in life (and to be honest, when they happen to those we love, they certainly feel as though they are). Perhaps we have not witnessed enough well lived lives that have completed their course and are ready to move forward. Perhaps we know not yet or have not evolved enough spiritually to see and revere the beauty of the process. Perhaps we are stuck in the very human emotion of grief and longing born of our selfishness to want to keep those we love with us for always. I know that I have certainly experienced that inconsolable pain of having to let go before I was ready. It wounds and scars us if we don’t understand that leaving this life should be as much a celebration as welcoming a new life.
Lori & Joann have taken an incredibly long and arduous journey together these past many years and managed to SING all the while. They sang together, they sang separately; they sang sweetly and they sang often. There is so much to be gleaned, for each of us, from having been fortunate enough to be witnesses to their journey together. We can grow as parents for our children, children for our parents…as friends and neighbors and family to one another. There is so much to take into ourselves and carry on our own journeys after having heard their song…if only we were all paying attention.
Thank you my dear, sweet friends Lori and Mama Bird for sharing your song of love with us.
“I’d rather learn from one bird how to sing than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance.” - e.e. cummings
Even in her final act, Mrs. Bird was still teaching us. This time, not letters and numbers but how to sing. How to sing our soul’s song.
We are changed for the good.
Once you get where you’re going you’ll always understand.
It was my great honor and privilege to cancel my Saturday night plans and instead spend time with these two women. I wasn’t certain it would come this night but I had a feeling.
I sat with my friend and comforted her as her mother left us after a battle with cancer and strokes that had lasted over a decade.
She was a mother, daughter, wife, sister, aunt, friend, kindergarten teacher, lover of birds and good jokes and will be missed by all who knew and loved her.
I’ve experienced that leaving with many others over the years and it was this night, as always, a sacred and holy experience that has left me changed.
I am reminded, as I always am in the afterglow of a departing soul, of what a beautiful essence each of us carry within us and how quickly it moves on into the next realm once its time has come.
And while I will continue to comfort my dear friend in the weeks, months and years to come as she misses her mother and adjusts to a life without her mother here in physical form, I mourn not the loss of Mama Bird but instead choose to celebrate her life and rejoice in the knowledge that she is being reborn in a new existence.
And so it goes.
For us all in our own time.
They Don’t Shoot Bullies of the Day: Jennifer McKendrick (AKA Jen McKen), a self-employed photographer from Pennsylvania, recently came across a Facebook page created by a number of teenage girls as a sort of “Burn Book” for the purposes of “say[ing] mean and hurtful things about their class mates.”
“It was beyond ‘your clothes are ugly’ or ‘you don’t have any brand clothes’ or ‘you are ugly, your hair is not right,” she told 6 News. “It was vicious. It was talking about sexuality.”
McKendrick recognized some of these girls as clients who had senior picture photoshoots scheduled with her. She promptly sent those girls (and their parents) an email letting them know that she will not be able to proceed with the sessions.
“[H]ow I could spend 2 hours with someone during our session trying to take beautiful photos of them knowing they could do such UGLY things,” she wrote on her blog. “Realistically, I know by canceling their shoots it’s not going to make them ‘nicer people’ but I refuse to let people like that represent my business.”
McKendrick says she’s received emails back from two of the girls’ parents, expressing shock at their daughters’ actions and apologizing for their behavior. “So far I haven’t received any backlash but I’m ready for it,” says McKen, who understands that this decision may affect her business.
But her new policy stands, cemented with a powerful motto: “If you are ugly on the inside, I’m sorry but I won’t take your photos to make you look pretty on the outside.”