Heavy thunderstorms and torrential downpours washed away the oppressive heat and humidity yesterday afternoon. The lushness of my sub-tropical backyard called me outside, where a hundred shades of summer green and the smell of renewal charged the crisp air. The towhees and catbirds sang like it was early spring, and even the buzz of the cicadas seemed refreshed, appreciating the unique joy of summer storms.
As usual I end up in my prayer and meditation garden, a solitary place of refuge and peace that I try to visit daily. The mosses that carpet the open area are swollen like sponges, holding the rain, creating a natural cushion for my knees. The peacefulness of my “office” allows me to forget the bills and to-do lists I have been working on all day; I’m allowed to look inside here.
In the evening on the day Debbie died, after an incredible and taxing day, after most of the relatives had left, the crowd had dwindled to my sisters Sarah and Annie, the boys and myself. There was a calm peace that settled over us, partly from finally escaping the necessary rush of relatives, friends and well-wishers, but also because a cool front had moved in, breaking the humidity with the same slight breeze and freshness the storms had brought now, and climaxing with an incredible sunset. It was as if Debbie’s spirit were free, free to flit through the trees and dance among the stars and butterflies. We all felt it, and there was no sadness, just a calm, peaceful knowing that everything was okay, that Debbie was okay, that we would be okay.
Of course we ended up in my grotto that evening too, and Aunt Sarah and Trevor built a simple memorial to mom. Candles, a necklace, stones from the yard, leaves, a light bulb, a pine cone from a family vacation to the Sierras, flowers and rocks all adorned my “prayer log”, and a beautiful story was crafted by Trevor to weave in the symbolism of their creation. I will let Trevor describe what he and Sarah created, in his own words:
Trevor – On earth there were more leaves than in heaven; that means that parts of mom live on in earth. There is a purple flower for heaven – that is mom – and three yellow flowers – that is us, which means mom is watching over us. The light bulb is how smart mom was and bright and happy. The necklace meant that she had a lot of love. The candles meant that she was smart and intelligent. The big pine cone meant how big and strong she was, and she could Fight Like a Girl. The stones in front meant that your body can’t go from earth to heaven, but your spirit can. The big candle in the middle meant how strong us and mom are. And the heart rock divides heaven and earth; that means that love is between heaven and earth.
How lucky I am to have such a beautiful, sensitive – and wise beyond his years – son like Trevor!
The heart rock glistens after the rains. It is a beautiful heart rock that Sarah brought with her from New York, perfectly shaped and colored and sized like a human heart. It anchors the prayer log, straddling that mysterious space between what is physical and what is spiritual, the liaison between heaven and earth, body and spirit. The heart, long a symbol of love; love, the emotion that makes us human, that transcends all of us, that transcends even death.
I hold the rock and let the tears flow like the rain, remembering Debbie’s heart, and pray she will help heal our hearts…