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winging it

Sage and beloved friend Lindsay says, “I realize we are all just winging it.” Yes. So why do I feel so heavy? Maybe I’m dragging it more than winging it, though birds carry around the dead too. A hawk flew over my head this morning with a limp squirrel in its grip but in this case, the dead thing means life for the bird; simple as that. I doubt the hawk revisits the event in therapy.

Margaret Atwood writes “beginnings are sudden, but also insidious”. Our skin cells divide moment to moment, incessantly new, and sleep (if you’re getting any) is the velvet curtain drop of one drama to the next, but in between –

is there a beginning more insidious than the sun’s rise? After loss, I mean. Though on the unremarkable days, our thanklessness is insidious too. My niece painted a sunset that my family witnessed together and when she gave it to me, I felt a beginning. I began to put the bags of my heart down.

The painting is Gammie’s new view of us; her seat in the sky and the robe of light she wraps around us. The painting is of letting go – the going, going, gone-ness of today - its lingering reflection in water. In real life, edited from the painting, there was a trawler with an untidiness of seagulls around it churning through that sunset, dragging nets for gain.

In the composition of things, I want to be light dancing or waves lapping, but I’m the busy shrimp boat mostly. The barnacled vessel lunging towards capture – to get it right, to get it now and get it good, to seize it before the hourglass empties and the fireball drowns, my conscientiousness submerging my consciousness. Like the mother orca who carried her dead calf for seventeen days and a thousand miles on her nose, these nine months of quarantine have been a sojourn of healing; the weight of loss meeting the weight of thanks in a fishbowl of time and precedent. It’s been hard, holy and hard.

Gammie signed her letters: Lots of Love. That is what life takes; a lot of love, a winging it amount – which some call faith and others call consciousness – and I call trying. I will try to be more of what I am: light and waves. I will try to stop dragging my disappointments, towing stress and fear. I will try to use what’s dead as sustenance for living – to empty, rest and make a friend of time. The world had ninety-seven years of Gammie – lots and lots and lots of love- and still she rises and sets. What mercy in my nets, what a cull of beauty.

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