Saturday, April 11, 2020

So Many "Always"

Last night, I saw a shooting star. It always feels lucky to catch a glimpse of that heavenly streak of light, but this was even more serendipitous. I was lying in bed, Dave beside me playing Words with Friends, his face illuminated by the glow from his iPad. My gaze had strayed from the game to the window and beyond, to the forked limbs of the maple tree black against the night sky.  And there was the star, falling, it seemed, from one branch to the other. 

To see a star fall as I lay in my bed? What are the odds? I so want to think it was a good omen from Mom or Dad or God, saying all will be well. 

Dave, as always, fell asleep as soon as he closed his iPad. Also as always, I lay awake for hours. From the front of the house, the moon shone with extraordinary brightness, casting patterns of mullions and silver across the bedroom floor. More than once, I rose to press my nose against the cold glass of the windowpane. The pink Super moon was two days passed, but still, it was round and full and brilliant. I thought of all the eyes, going back through time, through hardship and longing, that had been lifted to that beacon. 

A shooting star, a beaming full-faced moon: so much light in the darkness, and I want it to mean something, to portend hope well placed. 

I’ve been sifting through old family pictures, some as far back as the 1800’s.  One captures an elegant young woman dressed for a party, her hand resting gracefully on her lap, palm upturned. She is my great-grandmother, and she doesn’t look happy.  What was she thinking when the picture was taken? How did she die? What was she like? What did she enjoy doing? Why didn’t I think of these questions when Mom was still alive? 

To me, those in the past seem as gray and two-dimensional as their images. Hell, my own past seems a fiction now, when pictured moments of babies held close, giggling groups crammed close for a shot, and great gatherings of celebrants at weddings and holidays are forbidden luxuries. But I’ve given more thought lately to the reality of sorrow, fear, and pain faced by ancestors who endured great wars, depression, and disease.

A friend wrote me recently about her great-grandfather.  He returned from serving his country in World War I and then succumbed to the Spanish Flu. Imagine the elation of the safe return of that husband/father/son from mortal threat and one’s own release from the agonizing worry over his daily peril… only to lose him to illness at home. My heart stills at the cruelty and depth of that pain. With losses mounting from COVID-19, even of those striving to heal and help others, I want reasons, I want meaning. I cling to belief in a grand plan, far beyond my understanding… I must.

I pray a lot these days, often with tears, always with yearning, and always with gratitude for those on the front lines and in my own life, for so many years of blithe, wonderful times with loved ones. This pandemic crisis will end, and we will emerge from quarantine to hug again. For now, and for always, memories, prayers, phone visits, Dave’s hugs, funny videos, ZOOM-time with loved ones, and shooting stars must sustain me.    



gail m said...

Just beautiful; thank you so much for sharing your sentiments and observations.

I often say there are 7 billion+ worlds on this planet - so many stories, each different, and multiply that by all the people who have existed before here! My understanding of personal history only goes back to my great-grandparents, and then who knows...

As far as looking at old photos...even looking at high school yearbooks from the 50s (or 40s or 60s), everyone looked so OLD compared to how I and my friends looked (circa 1971), let alone your "grand" great-grandmother with the upturned hand.

Seeing a shooting star (let alone from your BED!) is pure magic, even rarer than a rainbow. It counts as a "stamp of approval from the Universe" I always say! You are so Loved.

Unknown said...

Dear Lea, I love that God sent you a star and gorgeous moonlight to remind you of eternal beauty in temporary darkness. I love that your heart is passionate for answers and meaning when there is so much confusion and angst. I love that you always strive for goodness and Truth in a world where the opposite is often on brazen display. I love you and Dave!

I too reach for The Eternal -It is the only thing that remains after everything and everyone passes through our times of experience and existence. Thank you for always fighting for truth and honor and kindness towards all.

Yes, you are SO LOVED :)

Lea said...

Ohhhhhh, such loving messages! My heart fills!! I wish I knew who "unknown" is, but both of you have given me exactly the virtual hugs I need right now!

Also, and I will probably include this in a PS on my next blog, I just found out a bit more about my great-grandmother. Her maiden name was Clara Wipperman and she died in 1918, the year of the Spanish Flu epidemic. I was stunned to see that date... it seems cosmic that I would take an interest in her during this COVID-19 epidemic and discover that possibly she was a victim of that flu.

Laurie Stone said...

So beautiful as always, Lea. I hope that shooting star means something too. We need all the good omens we can get these days.

Janice Curtin said...

The images you paint of the shooting star and brilliant moon are beautiful. Connections with the past do seem particularly meaningful at this time. The generations before us faced many difficult trials and offer role models for us now. Hopefully in the future others will look back in times of need and find some hope and strength in what we did.

The photograph of your great-grandmother is priceless!

Unknown said...

I think the same thing...what did other generations endure? We will get through this, but we all have to keep an eye on the gift we've been given...time to breathe, collect our thoughts, see the inequality and hopefully make changes. I hope we can do this-I feel committed!