Summer and the Lughnasa Moon
Monday gratefuls: Kate, always Kate. Her death. Mourning. Grieving. Greg, coming to give an estimate on staining the house. Rivers and Mountains poetry of China. Hsieh Ling-yun. Black Mountain. Shadow Mountain. Maxwell Creek. Cub Creek. Bear Creek. Aspen. Lodgepole.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: Physical therapy
Three months ago today Kate died. Hits me like a punch in the chest. I’m joyful, happy even. Her death though. Oh. My. Three months. It has been a lifetime for me, seems like a lifetime ago. Life when Kate was alive, when we were together. And now, the life when she is dead and we are not.
The dark first week, starting around 12:30 am when I got the call from Sarah: She’s gone. Oh. Numb. Should I go back to sleep or cry or wail? Then the drive in with BJ to see her body in the dimly lit hospital room, her jaw slack, her muscles no longer needed.
The service. A wonder. So many voices from so many locations. All about Kate. Her quilts. Her kindness. Her persistence. Her toughness. Her friendship. Her motherhood. Her loss and what it meant. Ruth staying with me. The CBE minyan gathered.
The next Monday, a week after her death, sitting shiva. Seoah here. We walked to the end of the driveway, looked out at the world where that new life would be lived. Knew that it was there, waiting.
30 days of saying kaddish. Purchasing a yahrzeit wall plaque for her. The struggle with getting death certificates. Her cremation. Cards of consolation.
Each, in their way, a step away from the awful moment of her death into the next phase of life. Two weeks of this bill, that form. Visits to banks, phone companies, Evergreen Mortuary to pick up her ashes. Joseph’s help during that time. Seoah, too.
On a plane. For the first time (with one brief exception) since 2016’s trip to Korea and Singapore. Though. Alone. Putting thousands of miles between that awful moment and myself.
Six weeks on Oahu. Murdoch spinning and jumping and licking. Not doing much. Sleeping, exercising. Eating too much. Talking and talking and talking with Joe, Seoah, Mary. Seeing the vasty Ocean. The green shaded Mountains with their razor thin Ridges. Those silly Cattle Egrets with the sinuous necks. The battling Mynah Birds. Monkey Pod Trees. Royal Palms. Pearl Harbor. The overburden of WWII. Most of all, tincture of time. A Kate doctorism.
That awful night before the flight home when I felt weak and vulnerable. I couldn’t hear. I was fatigued. Facing an all night flight back home.
My modest fear that coming back to the house would be hard. It wasn’t. Seeing Kep and Rigel. Yes. So good. Realizing that Kate’s memory had turned into a blessing rather than a razor cutting my soul.
A brief hint over the weekend of the new life. Reading the Mountain Poems of Hsieh Ling-Yun. Remembering the long tradition in Chinese civilization. Literati heading to the Mountains to live as recluses. Yet, recluses who wrote poetry, played the qin, painted, did calligraphy, feted each other from time to time. Recluses focused on art and creativity and Wilderness. Yet not misanthropic hermits.
The tradition of Rivers and Mountains poetry (shan-shui) begun by Hsieh Ling-Yun as the Han dynasty collapsed. Seeing the Mountains as the earth’s chi, pushed up by its yang, sacred living beings. The Rivers the earthly extension of the great Star River (the Milky Way) touching down in the Mountains, then tumbling toward the World Ocean to rejoin the Star River.