Saturday, November 10, 2007

I CAN SEE THE SKY - November 10, 2007

"I saw a star,
I reached for it, and I missed.
So I accepted the sky.”
Scott Fortini

On Sunday afternoon, I attended a tree planting ceremony in memory of my friend, Mary Knipp, who died of breast cancer last December. Actually, I missed most of the proceedings because I missed an important turn and ended up miles north of where I was supposed to be. I arrived as people were taking turns shoveling dirt into the hole. It’s a nice tree—a tulip tree. Mary would have like that, I’m sure.

“I have a book for you,” Betty, Mary’s mom, said to me. I found it among Mary’s things. It’s about grace and I want you to have it.” I love books and I went home and immediately dove into its pages. Well, not immediately. I again got lost because I was lost in thought…

This morning, the backhoe is back next-door. Occasionally, I peer out the window to keep track of the progress as my neighbors’ house is scooped up in pieces and loaded into large dumpsters. As much as I have not liked looking at their beautiful house in ruins, at least a part of them was still there. Now almost all signs of their having dwelled there are gone. It’s an empty lot and I feel empty inside. I hate that feeling of not being able to turn back the clock—like we did last Saturday. If only this, if only that…maybe the house could have been saved. No use in wishing on a star. Sigh…

I rescued the stone turtle candleholders off their deck, lest the backhoe grab them and gobble them up. One is in perfect condition, the other a little crispy around the edges, but useable. I still have such a strong urge to rescue bits and pieces of their lives. Kind of silly, perhaps, but it’s my way of helping them salvage something, anything. In truth, it helps helpless me feel a wee bit helpful.

Loss is such a huge theme in my life these days. I’ve been focused on how I’m losing neighbors but I now realize, with John and Donna’s house gone, I can see the home of my NEW next-door-neighbors. I think I’ll bake Charles and Loretta some bread and go introduce myself. This also seems silly, because we already know each other—but I still think I’ll do it, just for fun. It’s nice to again see lights on “next door.”

Attending the tree planting drew me back into my writing about Mary’s journey (“Saturdays with Mary”). I reread a portion of Lance Armstrong’s book (Every Second Counts: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong and Sally Jenkins) about his grueling encounter with cancer. Sally Reed, a fellow cancer survivor who lost her house in a fire, told Lance, “My house is burned, but we can see the sky.” (God is always drawing me back to books at strategic times—and I think this is one of those times!)

“My house is burned, BUT WE CAN SEE THE SKY.”

In the very same section, Lance says, “Any temptation I have to brood over losses is tempered by the knowledge that I can afford to lose just about anything except my life and the lives of people I care about.” Both John and Donna said something similar, even as we stood in my yard and watched the fire.

I’m lost in so many ways these days: lost it thoughts about a past that I cannot recapture; lost in an ongoing journey of grief in which I must let go of my brother-in-law, my friend, my mom, my neighbor, all of whom died in the last year; lost on the highways and byways that connect me to the present. My writing is a way of bridging the past and present and beginning to envision a future that is more hopeful. Mary, Lance, and Sally, and John and Donna, help me see the sky.

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:
Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,

and calls them each by name.
Isaiah 40:26

1 comment:

Lize said...


I love your blog, and indeed one experiences grace through/in your writing. You have a talent and you refined your art.
Love this Lize