What I've learned
My eyes already touch the sunny hill.
going far ahead of the road I have begun.
So we are grasped by what we cannot grasp;
it has inner light, even from a distance -
and charges us, even if we do not reach it,
into something else, which, hardly sensing it,
we already are; a gesture waves us on
answering our own wave...
but what we feel is the wind in our faces.
To whom or what do you turn for comfort when there is no way to accept what is happening? For me, comfort lies in the words of those long dead. For some reason, Rilke in particular always seems to capture the impossibilities of how I feel, what I mean to say, and how I attempt to go on. I want to write just like him. He's less elusive than Plath, more subtlety spiritual than Arnold and Eliot, more reverent than Pound, more literal than Neruda, more humble than Whitman or Thoreau, and deeply more sorry than Hughes.
Last night, I had to say fare-thee-well to one of my heart's chambers, my Red. My burden of loss is nothing compared to the mortal fear she faces, but a significant loss nonetheless. Nothing is ever final as we wander this earth, pursuing our dreams and uncovering our paths, and in this I know the friendship will always remain integral to my being - even if she isn't here physically. She is moving home to San Francisco to help her mother fight the sudden onslaught of stage 4 pancreatic cancer. On the way home, after a few cleansing tears, I found myself pleading with the cosmos for an exception, for something to change so we don't have to endure this suffering, this impossible loss. There is nothing like tragedy to test your convictions, as I spoke with something I don't even believe interacts with daily human activity. But sometimes, whether or not it's real or provable science, the biology of the human soul cries out to the universe - nothing could be more natural than for a created being to plead with that which is responsible for its existence, call it god, science, or as I do - both.
I've learned many things from my Red. To name a few:
- The availability of a friend can be equally comforting as the words they might say.
- There are so many different ways to live a life. No one is more correct than the other.
- There is nothing better than the sound of a cork popping at 11am.
- The pace of the cook is just as important as what you cook. Pour yourself wine, turn on music, spend time omitting love and care into the food and it will do the same for you.
- Never give up hope on someone, no matter how badly they may treat you or how flippantly they may hold your love.
- Flirting with service staff gets you free wine. Copious cleavage helps too.
- Believe confidently that how you naturally love others is enough, even if they complain otherwise.
- A messy room can be cathartic.
- People first. Always people first.
- Wear scarves as shirts and skirts as dresses.
- In the name of love, learn to speak another soul's language.
- Women need other women.
- Self-deception is despicable.
- Everyone is on their own journey, and it is up to them to do the work. Walk alongside whilst both working hard, but never, ever do the work for them.
She's in the arms of her mother today and soon we will also say goodbye to her husband, who owns another chamber of my heart - it's really rather sectioned-out, this beating beast in my chest. It seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. One who is well loved is one who loves well. Until we are all loved-well, we must extend relentless patience and compassion to others.
And so we are grasped by what we cannot grasp,
p.s. If you want to follow the progress of Jessica's mother's battle, Jess is writing about it here: El Tiempo Para Gustar.