Ramona was buried today, one of the very hardest days of Art?s life. I am in the odd position of actually being able to imagine how he feels, because I went through it in some small way in the days after Anne fell ill a year ago October. I will never, ever forget how supportive he and Ramona were, and how good all of you were to me. When I really needed you, you were there with your prayers and your good wishes, and you have been there for Art, too, and I am so grateful for that.
How strange it would be that she would be the first, the youngest of the four of us. How very strange. In a second, Art?s world changed, she flew free?and then life simply flowed on. He?s left behind in a world suddenly emptied of the flower of his love. They were total companions, just like me and Anne.
As you know, Art and I are very similar people?loners who, for one reason or another, have discovered that the world the establishment wants us to believe is real is a tissue of lies. Art went on the radio to talk about it and I started writing about it. One thing led to another and we ended up on the road together, and Anne and Ramona were the people who made our lives happen.
In the 48 hours after Anne had her stroke, the chances were that she would die. It was that simple. On that long first night at the hospital, I sat with three of our beloved fans with me?three of you, who had just tossed on your clothes and come?and my son, and faced the fact that I was, at any moment, about to be left alone.
I explored the idea that I might follow her, either that I might take my own life or that nature would take me, also. Then I thought to myself, what would Anne expect? And I knew what I would do: I would go on. Or rather, the part of the single being that is us would continue living as long as it took. But I would not give up, become a shadow of myself. I?d step out. I?d continue to strive and struggle and try, as best I was able, attempting to somehow make my way around the chasm that had opened up in my life.
What Art will do, I don?t know and I can?t speculate. But I do hope that the wave of life lifts him again, and he somehow gets through this terrible, terrible time. In his place?well, it seems an affront even to imagine that I might know his suffering, or the suffering of anybody who has had a dear and loving marriage broken by the chop of death.
I feel the strong flow of the river these days, and the old mortality haunts me. I wonder if Anne might revisit the shadow, or if my time will be upon me soon. If so, then my one regret is that I have been able to say so little of what I have known. I cannot even begin to describe the incredible life I have lived. I?ve tried and tried and tried, but the best I am able to do is to just scratch the surface of it. This feeling of being closer to its end?perhaps true and perhaps not?inspires a new determination in me, though. I WILL say it, as hard as that is. I will make the language work, somehow.
The problem isn?t that I have secrets to keep. Far from it. The problem is that the languages we have are not a sufficient tool to communicate the truth of life as I have lived it.
I made something of a breakthrough with the book that?s coming out in the fall, the Grays. I think that I?ve learned, using the medium of fiction, to actually teach how to communicate with them, and to tell a little, through the medium of my main character, of what my life has been.
Communicating in this way leads to becoming part of something truly extraordinary, a chorus of being that is spread far and wide, across the reaches of the stars, through the weave of time and beyond, literally everywhere.
In some small way, even the knowledge that such a chorus exists, or may exist, lessens the burden of the living. At least, one on the outside of great grief can say that.
Nothing, though, could have lightened the load of grief if I?d lost Anne. How Art feels?my God. And yet, how many of you reading this are widows or widowers? You know that people go on or they don?t. Life goes on or it doesn?t. Somehow, the person who is residue of every couple must find a way to embrace what they have left of time and breath.
And yet, I am reminded of Ecclesiastes, ?Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern…? then the beloveds go back into the dust, and the river flows on, carrying those who mourn along its quick waters weeping.
One?s heart grows full, so immeasurably full, on these long reaches of life, where the sands grow thin and the long sigh of the ocean sounds loud. And you look back and you think, these are the impossible days, the time that would never follow my eternal summer. But here they are, and we find ourselves walking in a swirl of leaves and memories, so soon, so very soon.
God bless you. Thanks for being our fans. Thanks for all the email. We?re all on this journey together, all of us suffering, all of us touching the light at those unexpected moments when it comes.
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