“For what is it to die, But to stand in the sun and melt into the wind?”
– Kahlil Gibran
A great blue heron stands sentinel in the creek at Plum Creek Cemetery, hunting, his elegant, long blue neck feathers rustling in the wind. He doesn’t flinch as I drive by, intent on the small fish darting among the shadows, eyes laser focused, the wind not even noticed.
But I notice. It is a welcome respite from the summer heat and humidity. It tells of storms coming, of the energy soon to be barreling down upon us from above, as so many of our storms have been recently. It blows the purple plastic windmill on my wife’s grave at full speed. I wonder if it will uproot and take wing in the gale.
Nobody is here this early in the morning. I am only here at this time because I’ve just dropped the boys off at football practice. I’ve got a couple hours to myself; I like that. I like being here now too, and Deb’s tombstone posts a permanent reminder that it is very close to the two year anniversary of her passing.
I have all the windows down on the Camry, the sunroof open too, and my “Grief Songs” cd playing at full volume. Jackson Brown, Cat Stevens and Scott Miller’s voices fill the air and ride the thermals, the volume undulating with the gusts, wafting over the tombstones and flowers. I imagine Debbie listening to the songs with me, as we often did, curled up in front of the stereo with a glass of wine and the lyric sheet on a Friday night after a long work week.
I have this annoying habit, of really digging into an artist that catches my attention, that strikes a chord with me. Warren Zevon was such an artist, an offbeat, eccentric dude, full of faults and warts and surprises that many didn’t like or understand, probably because it takes time to appreciate his subtle genius. I devoured everything Zevon, spending hours with each disc, with every song that spoke to me.
And I would share these passions, these discoveries way in the back of the catalog, these gems most people missed, with Debbie. I’m not sure she appreciated them as much as I did, but that’s not the point – she sat and listened, let me ramble, let me gush, and recognized and shared my joy. Big smile.
I miss that, though…
Warren Zevon floats with the wind now, over the cemetery grass. Warren died in in 2003, of cancer, too, at age 56. The cancer gave him ample warning, and took its long, slow, sweet time, debilitating his body one cell at a time. But it allowed him time to write and record one last album, on which the song that is playing now closed the disc. “Keep Me In Your Heart For Awhile,” from his last disc, entitled simply, “The Wind.” I think Warren understood Gibran’s words.
I remember distinctly the wind the night Debbie died. Same as today, violent storms had washed away the oppressive summer heat. I remember watching the tops of the cherry trees dance in my yard, I remember the feeling of being free, released to the winds, I remember thinking Debbie was dancing with the white butterflies that flit through the branches. I am sure the wind tossled the herons’ feathers that day, too, and I am sure he didn’t notice it then, either.
A yellow butterfly floats by now, going the breeze. which has settled a bit. The butterfly is noticed by a silent, cross-legged observer, sitting barefoot in the grass, acutely aware of the wind moving through him…
Sometimes when you’re doing simple things around the house
maybe you will think of me and smile.