Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Tonight we are home again in Cleveland after being away for yet another funeral . .. another great grandparent- Jim's grandmother- passed away last week.  We cannot learn of another soul's passing without a gasp, though we watch it approach for years. Death always will be the great shock of the universe, it startles and grieves no matter what.  Even when she's ninety six.  Even then there are tears, and this need to be together, to hold onto the fragile flesh of one another.

It was the third funeral in one summer and early autumn of my young children's lives.  Each has come with talk of death, and delicate answers to questions we know only darkly.  And yet for my children who are yet blessedly removed from great sadness, from death's terrible roar, death to their fresh mind is related to dark chocolate cake and casseroles, cousins, dressing up in wedding clothes.  They have only just begun, so far from old. All weekend they shone like the green grass around gravestones.  They wish for nothing more than an endless sunny afternoon to drink grape soda and giggle with cousins and skip hand-in-hand through the cemetery.  We bury ashes, our children dance prophesy.

At the hotel I examine my age spot in the mirror.  I bought cream this summer meant to make it disappear like magic, and I think it is working a little.  There is also the issue of a few grays, becoming more like a lot, I probably should begin coloring my hair soon but, sigh, I hate to start.

I am thinking about my grandmother's hands.  Dotted with age, blue skin thin like lilies.  I am gradually growing into her skin now, I realize, death beginning it's slow claim on me, too, now only traces, like the fingerprints I scrub from our walls.

Thirty-five, the age of in-between- one hand stretched to the newly born and a hand to the recently departed, nearing the middle of this life cycle, Lord willing . ..

I think about death all the time- does everyone? -of all this death and dying, all I can conclude or figure out about death and it's sorrow- is not so much it's tragedy at the end of long living, more it's tragedy of living's slow dying.

It is death that begins it's crawl over our spirits, when we are too young to notice: first just a streak or spot of grey appearing.  Tears unwasted will start to pool into pockets beneath the skin, disappointment leaves it's spots, heartbreak will harden the arteries eventually, the slightest streaks of apathy.

My children take off their shoes and is this me- already- plucking blackberries?

Life ages us, it can't be stopped- we are not so eternal as we once were.  How does one escape death- if only by her spirit?  I chew my kids' vitamins and apply the only cream I know- foolishness and joy.

“Earth's crammed with heaven, 
And every common bush afire with God, 

But only he who sees takes off his shoes;

The rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” 

― Elizabeth Barrett Browning

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. 

Hebrews 6:19-20


Deb Colarossi said...

This is incredible .

( sorry for your loss(es).

Fijufic said...

You must accept death with humility as it is a part of life. It is painful but you live a very rich and full life.

Take care of the vehicle that carries your soul and you will enjoy your beautiful life Jessica.

Do not be afraid of death for it will rob you of living each day to the fullest.

You are very important and loved.

Just don't let any opportunity to do something memorable ever slip away.

Now is the time. Now is always the answer.


Cara said...

I was so sad to hear of another loss in your family, Jess! Hugs and prayers for you. You're right - it is never easy, even when someone is old and ready. (Ben's grandmother was also 96 when she died 2 years ago.) But I've been reminded lately that because we love, we also hurt deeply when our loved one is gone. What a wonderful example of love your and Jim's grandparents have been in your lives and in the lives of your daughters!