Yule and the Moon of the New Year
Where’s the Webb? 791ooo miles from home. 108000 miles to L2 insertion. 88% of the way. .1769 mps. Sunshield: 131 F. Primary Mirror: -328 F.
Saturday gratefuls: Snow. Fresh and white. A friend’s Dog, cancer. The house changing, transforming. The Hermitage. Brown. Color. Kep’s abundant, luxuriant, always growing fur. The Mountains in Winter. The Lodgepoles with heavy bows. The Arcosanti bell has a white fairy cap. The outdoor table has a round, snowy table covering exactly its size. Medical Guardian. Uncertainty.
Sparks of Joy and Awe: The love we have for our Dogs. And the love they have for us.
Tarot: Page of Arrows, The Wren
A friend’s dog diagnosed with inoperable cancer. A friend on her third or fourth round of chemo for ovarian cancer. Kate dead. My own, more tractable cancer. Life. Then death. The way of the animate world. It says something about our need, our lust for permanence that disease followed by death exacts such a toll. But it does. Death is no more, no less prevalent than birth and life; but, it insults us, destroys our fabricated lives.
When the snow fell today, all day, as it hasn’t in a while, it covered the driveway, my solar panels, this Shadow Mountain. Even our daily views are impermanent, changing often in the temperate latitudes where I’ve lived all my life.
Ichi-go, ichi-e. Every moment, every encounter is once in a lifetime. The tea ceremony is a beautiful expression, a reminder of this oh, so important truth. Kate will never be here on this plane again. Unique and significant in her quick intelligence, her dry wit, her chesed, her love for me, for Jon, Ruth, Gabe. My friend’s dog, whom I’ve met many times, likewise. Stolid. Built low to the ground. Attentive, but mostly arranging himself near Rich. Each time I met him was a whole moment. Complete and wonderful. As was each day with Kate.
This summer my friend with ovarian cancer made home-made strawberry ice-cream and we shared it at a table in Mt. Falcon Park, near Morrison. We both had the brand of the impermanent burned into our bodies with blood draws, sleepless nights, worry, treatments. If we could, as the Buddhists I think recommend, lean into the impermanence, grant it the piquancy it brings, the poignance of ichi-go, ichi-e as a home truth, if we could, we might still mourn and grieve, but we might also find room to celebrate the passing of each once-in-a-lifetime instance.
Each spring in Andover plants would push up from the cold, cold Earth. The Grape Hyacinths, the Daffodils, the Crocus, the Anemones. The Spring Ephemerals. Those plants whose strategy is to store food during a burst of growth before Leaves on Trees and Bushes, taller Flowers block them out. Such a joyous, brilliant, hopeful life. Yet, brief. Ephemeral. Gone in a couple of weeks, three, four at the most.
Oh, how I miss those delights of the cold, wet days of late Winter, early Spring. I no longer miss caring for the Gardens, but I miss them nonetheless. Those gardens were an immersion, like foreign language immersion, in the ongoing lives of plants, in the dance of life and the inevitability of death. Each fall we composted the dead stalks that delivered food to the roots of vegetables and flowers. They had more to give even though they were now lifeless.
The Earth gives us daily lessons in impermanence, but we rationalize, smooth over, just don’t see them. I’m writing this now in the 10th month after Kate’s death. Her memory blesses me every day. Her lessons, the things she taught me. The same. I leave the door open on the washer so it won’t mildew. I trust my doctors. I love Judaism and the Jews that I know. Impermanence has permanently changed me.