Eighteen days ago, one of my oldest friends was suddenly ripped away from all of us who love her. Five days later, her husband asked me contact a couple of her friends, friends that dated back to our college days. He closed our phone conversation with, “I love you.”
That wasn’t something he normally would have said to me. But a terrible loss like this one is a reminder of how dear people are to us, and how quickly things can change. We are shaken by the shoulders and reminded to notice things that hover just beyond our attention, people for whom we are grateful. Now.
I’ve been re-reading Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek this week. Yesterday I recorded this quote, “Seeing is of course very much a matter of verbalization. Unless I call my attention to what passes before my eyes, I simply won’t see it.”
As Thanksgiving approaches, I look around me and see so much beauty. I see you, husband, my personal Mighty Mouse who continually saves (my) day by being so utterly reliable and unfailingly loving and who puts up with my Gemini self. I see you, daughter, not only for your talent, but your wisdom in being able to sense when people are going through difficult periods and your ability to be ready to support them even when they are not yet ready to accept help or support. I see you, son, your burgeoning talents, authenticity, sense of wonder and openness to all kinds of people.
I see you brothers, through our differences, for the loving, honorable and enduring presence that you are in my life. I see you, beloved nieces, nephews, and even great nephews, for the light in your eyes when we meet, which is nowhere near as often as I would wish. I see you, in-laws, for the umbrella of security and acceptance that you have created for my family, and for me. I see you, family who are more than family, Lynn, Louise and Mary, who always seem to reach out at just the right moment.
And I see you, friends. I’ve talked most about my female friends, who have been my pillars, but my guy friends have always been stalwart supports in my life. I see you, Howie, Bill, Pete, Jim and Mario.
And, yes, you female friends who always stand by: Ellen, Sandy, Lisa, Tammy, Cheryl, Collette, Wendi, Tracy, Sharon, Debbie O, Linda, Nancy, Judee, “Babes” (you know who you are) and probably more who I have inadvertently left off.
There is one name missing from that inventory of people I hold dear today, one who is gone from this world but smiling from the next. It is you, Deb, who is reminding me from afar to pay attention. I did not hold you close as I could have — should have — in recent years. Sure, I have decent excuses, but none of them seem good enough right now. I list you last, but not least.
“Unless all ages and races of men have been deluded by the same mass hypnotist (who?), there seems to be such a thing as beauty, a grace wholly gratuitous… (B)eauty and grace are performed whether or not we will or sense them. The least we can do is try to be there.”
I am trying to be there and notice you all, you who I love.