I had a few hours of free time this morning. It’s rare for me to be alone, and away from home.
So I went to a cemetery.
A cemetery, near a forest by a church. A beautiful church. An old church.
Smoke from the forest fires raging south of us obscured the sky.
No one else was around.
It was like walking through a P.D. James novel.
Our world feels very obscured. There is no clarity.
Cemeteries provide clarity. Death provides clarity. The on switch is flicked off. 1 becomes 0. Light is dark.
The cemetery was quiet. Peaceful. Tranquil. Mostly grey with splashes of flowers. Immense trees loomed overhead. I saw an infant’s grave. I saw many birth dates far to close to the birthdays of people I love who are still alive. Loved ones I treasure beyond description. The people I do not ever want to lose.
As I write this, our dog is hours away from being euthanized. I’ve written about her in the past. Not always glowingly. But her absence will create a void in my life. In my wife’s life. In my daughter’s life. I will always remember the golden beauty who was with me when I was alone, and lonely, and a little bit scared of what the future held in store. I’ll remember long walks along the beach, stones thrown into the ocean, and hot summer days laying by the water, a book in one hand, and my Maggie beside me.
I’ll remember this day. Some glorious free time with something awful looming. And yet I’m still enjoying myself. A coffee in a café. My laptop in front of me. Nowhere I need to be for 90 whole minutes.
The where I need to be is my daughter’s pre-school. To pick her up. Earlier this week she was terrified before her first day. My wife and I felt her fear. Agonized over it. Needlessly. Because she came home and told us, “I love pre-school.” She asked to go every day. Kids grow up fast.
Today, when I dropped her off, she greeted her teacher with glee, overjoyed to tell her about the new doll her granny bought her. Almost forgetting dad was beside her. Maybe actually forgetting, because I had to ask for a hug and a kiss before she bounded into the classroom. I was so proud of her. And so conscious that my little girl is growing up.
My days often feel very obscured. The smoke of work, the smoke of stress, the smoke of life. Who has time for clarity when life moves a million miles an hour, Covid keeps us from one another, and fires blacken the sky?
Clarity might be unattainable. Or maybe it is does exist, but it is precious because it is both fleeting and hazy. Like a walk in a cemetery on a day filled with both life and death.
Dad picked up his daughter and bought her a Happy Meal for lunch.
Maggie died peacefully, in her home, surrounded by love.