Saturday, June 8, 2013

A Mary Oliver Morning

Like clockwork, Tigger tried to rouse me with the birds this morning. He does what cats do.  He walks all over me - all 14 pounds of him, stands on my bladder and my boobs, paws at my face and then when none of that works, he resorts to chewing on my hair.  This morning I actually felt badly for the boys because we were low on food so I was rationing them this week.  Their special diet (obviously not low calorie) finally came in yesterday, but I hadn't opened a bag or topped off their bowls.  That's why I was pretty certain they were starving.  So I forced myself to leave my cocoon to save them.  (We're all drama queens in this house.)  Then to my surprise, Miss Bit was up.  Well, down really - lounging on the couch.  I was even more surprised to find that she opened their food and filled their bowls (She filled the food bin and then sealed the bag too.)  My Bit, she's a keeper.  And those cats...the only thing they were starving for was affection, yet they're keepers too.

Like clockwork they are back to bed now.  It's fine though because I'm sitting here in a quiet again house save for a little Mozart.  Miss Bit is at softball practice and the boys are still soundly asleep.  I looked up to see the doe on cue helping herself to some branches moments ago.  She's so beautiful.  I love watching her.  We haven't seen her fawn for days.  This worries me, but I'm hopeful that she is leaving her baby bedded down in the bramble nearby.  I have to think this way or else my heart gets too heavy.  But the realist in me knows that not even a deer mama would leave her helpless baby alone in the woods.  Cue the Mary Oliver.  Her words are louder than Mozart right now.  This invitation is running through my mind:

Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?

- Mary Oliver
The Summer Day; New and Selected Poems 1992

As much as I dislike geese, I find myself stopping as I round the lagoon to admire them this time of year.  The parents flank the babies like soldiers.  They bob their heads, hiss and herd the fuzzy goslings to the pond and away from me : the intruder.  I marvel at how they have doubled, or maybe tripled, in size in the past two weeks. I wonder what it would feel like if my children grew that fast, but I know because my heart is aching just imagining the possibility.  Again, I hear Mary Oliver. I always hear her in these solemn, soul-expanding moments.
to live in this world
you must be able
to do three things
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go

-Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems, Volume I

I started listening to Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking this week. I'm always drawn to it on the library shelf and then strongly repelled by it once I get it home, yet I have checked it out countless times.  I spend enough time consumed by grief.  I don't need to take on someone else's has always been my rationale. It was all I had to listen to the other day so I did, and I must confess that I am loving this memoir in spite of the fact that it had me in tears mid-walk.  It is my nature to feel things deeply and my core.  Her words so poignantly spoke to my own pain and even through the heartache. Yet I could feel my soul sing as I looked out on the scenery before me with such grateful eyes.  I had this breakthrough.  I felt the heart of my grief, I welcomed it and then I made peace with it.  Yes, I grieve for loved ones lost, most painfully my Mom, but also for every bit of this fleeting life that is here right before me now.  To have been so close touched by to acknowledge its existence and accept its persistence. It will be a reality for each and every one of us we all know.  I don't think it scares me. I know it saddens me.  It saddens me to have to leave this behind because this is beautiful.  It really is.  To be alive, is a privilege whether you are deer or goose, or man or woman. And as incongruent as it seems, to accept death, is to fully engage life.

we are imperfect mortal beings, aware of that mortality even as we push it away, failed by our very complication, so wired that when we mourn our losses we also mourn, for better or for worse, ourselves. as we were. as we are no longer. as we will one day not be at all.

- Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking

So I have to believe that I finally succumbed to this memoir of grief for a reason.  It's simply time.  I'm ready to accept that it's not just about my's about me.  It's about my life as much, if not more than, my death.  And I also choose to believe that the battery died as I stood watching those vulnerable geese and their protective parents for a reason.  It was time for pause. Quiet.  The universe was talking and I was listening, and those are the most beautiful moments to be alive.