The Days of Awe have been more than awe-inspiring this year, thanks to a confluence of life’s essence. In the last week, we’ve poured our attention into rites of passage and signs of life.
Several days, we’ve been with an old friend facing a sudden diagnosis of late stage cancer, her daughter, and her spanking new grand daughter, who I got to hold and rock while Ken transported our friend’s wheelchair to the hospital room. Pacing with the baby, just six or so weeks old, in the hospital waiting room and outside by the fountain, I found myself slipping seamlessly into sway-walking and singing, the only diversion up my sleeve to distract her from turning her head to nurse. She watched me with bright eyes, and a few times, smiled and squinted as if she were trying to laugh. I kept singing her name to her, remembering how much I love holding newborns.
Within a few days, I was wearing what I’ve come to know as a “fascinator,” an
elegant hat, at a high tea wedding shower. Snacking on little sandwiches with the edges cut off, I visited with the bride-to-be and her mother, both friends, and shared praise with others there for how good we all looked in our fascinators. We gushes over the plushness of the towels someone gave as a gift, laughed during a memory game, and drank something called a “blushing bride.” Afterwards, I kept my fascinator on while picking up bananas at Target and then something at an auto parts store. I think I may have to don such hats regularly.
The next day, Ken and I went to the funeral of a dear man who is part of our Jewish community. The funeral was packed, the stories family and friends shared immensely beautiful, funny and tender. Off to Bani Israel, the Jewish cemetery (founded in the 1850s), we first wandered with others in the community to place small stones on the tombstones of old friends long gone, and then gathered for the short service and burial. As per our tradition, we all took a turn dropping a shovel-full of dirt onto the casket, the sound of which always breaks my heart open (others tell me it does the same for them). I was moved by the love of the family and the community, and by the time afterwards, sharing stories of friends buried there as well as the graves of children and adults from the 1800s.
Today, I sit in my chair and watch Cottonwood Mel move slightly in the breeze. Bees buzz around the hummingbird feeders hanging from the trees, and the animals sleep all around me while I entertain a cold. Yet given all the perspective the Days of Awe have shown me, what does it matter to be under the weather when the tender and curious weather of community fills my life?