Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Handful of Birdsong and a Small Cup of Light

Today I’m feeling a little somber.  It’s something to do with the economy, and how lives—including mine—might need to change pretty dramatically because of it.  That’s unknown right now, but possible.

It’s also about recent events in the news.  How quickly what’s precious can be lost.  


Last Sunday, my family and I went downhill skiing for the first and last time this season.  While we used to recreate almost whenever we wanted in winters past, this year we’re being very careful with money.  I was thinking of Natasha Richardson.  I made H. rent a helmet—her own was outgrown—but I didn’t get one for myself.  I’d already spent too much money. 

We returned home that day tired but glad to have gone.  It wasn’t until Monday that we learned about the plane crash in Butte that killed fourteen people—a couple mountain passes over from where we were enjoying our last ride up the chairlift.  

I know the cemetery where they crashed.  My sister and I drive by it  when we go vintage clothes shopping in Butte.  It’s on a dirty commercialized road that could be anywhere in America, punctuated by a Walmart, McDonalds, and strip malls.  A friend and I stopped there at a gas station by the cemetery three summers ago, too.  We were on our way home from taking our daughters camping.  I remember the warm breeze that came in our open car windows from the cemetery. 

Now I have to wonder why they had so many people in that plane.   Were those little kids allowed to move around on it, maybe throwing the balance off?  And was it merciful that the families died together?  

photography.jpg Photography:) image by Y0URM0M23

And thinking of the plane, the organization I work for hires small planes to fly over the mountains and forests in our mission area, several times a winter.  I went on one of these flights about a month ago.  I scouted the mountain lakes beneath us and tried to match them to names on the map.  I was nervous.  I thought about my daughter.   

Shortly after that I offered a special friend of our organization a seat on one of our flights.  She said maybe she’d come, “if the conditions are really right.”  But today I called her back and said, “I don’t think I want to offer you that, after all.”   

I need to stop from time to time to acknowledge that life is about loss as much as joy.  Loss of a way of life, a loved one, a dream.  Because that’s real, and the real is all we have.  This helps me move on to the real joy that’s there, too.    

Tonight I’m drinking in these feelings expressed by the 18th century poet, William Collins.  I like them.  They’re real. 

“But tomorrow, dawn will come the way I picture her,
barefoot and disheveled, standing outside my window
in one of the fragile cotton dresses of the poor.
She will look in at me with her thin arms extended,
offering a handful of birdsong and a small cup of light.”

turbulence Turbulence, by Jean Albus


Clare said...

Yes, life is so short and makes you ponder a lot doesn't it? I have been in a somber mood since Jade Goody, the british reality TV star passed. I, am a cancer survivor. Diagnosed at 29 years of age and now 9 years later I am a cancer free. She was not so lucky. I was blessed to be given a baby and she is now 3. I know that she is the only child I will have and it makes me nervous every day and I worry about her every day. Gosh, this comment is getting long. So, I will say goodnight and hope that you smile again soon.

Shey said...

Oh, I'm teary-eyed right now. This beautifully written.

We don't really know what comes down the bend but we pray hard that it won't be something that will cause us or someone we love a deep heartache.

All I know is how we have to be thankful for each moment and not take our loved ones or anybody for granted.

I remember a a line from a book I've read and I quote: "There are no ordinary moments". So treasure each and every bit of it.


Protege said...

I know these sentiments; the older I get the more aware I am of how precious life is and how sorrow and joy are intertwined.
I am a nervous flier and I feel sad every time an accident occurs.
The unfortunate death of Natasha really affected me as she was my favourite actress.
Beautiful and thought provoking post as always. Loved he quote.

Lola said...

Touching post, thank you. Ever since I became a mother 3 yrs ago, I'm always nervous about flying. Actually, to think of it, I have not yet. The Collins epilogue is beautiful.

Frugal Scholar said...

Just beautiful--thanks.

Ms. Lucy said...

My goodness what a tragedy. Life changes from second to second and we never know what will happen. That's what makes it so special and we need to cherish every moment. Life is so very precious.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sallymandy, I am visiting from Frugal Scholar. No, you never know what is around the next corner. My husband committed suicide 18 months ago; there one day, gone the next, and I had no idea it was coming. Whatever and whoever you have, make the most of it. As they say, nothing in life is certain except death and taxes.

Modest Mom said...

So sad -- life's days are never guaranteed to us. I find with all the things going on in the world I feel the need to pull those I love closer and I've been making a concerted effort to keep in touch with them better.

Thank you for sharing these feelings.

drollgirl said...

there are definitely ups and downs in life. hopefully more ups than downs.

hope more ups come your way soon! actually, i hope we all have more ups soon, as this has been one tough year so far in many ways.

Duchesse said...

One of my cherished colleagues, a wonderful guy of 50 was just diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer after a mysterious headache. We are all reeling. Life contains these reminders often; we can get so focused on 'defying wrinkles' or other claptrap in ads that we forget to live- then it is very late.

A Woman Of No Importance said...

Sallymandy, you have so elegantly put into words what many of us are feeling... The Zeitgeist, as it were, and the poetry you chose is very beautiful, thank you so...

Ingrid Mida said...

Life is precious and sometimes it is not until we lose someone we love or have a near death experience can we appreciate how fragile life is. Celebrate your life, your family and your friends today. Don't wait until tomorrow to share your love.

sallymandy said...

All: I'm sorry if you encountered that garish message from Photobucket about bandwidth being exceeded, right in my post. I wasn't aware of the problem for a while. Still new at this...hopefully won't happen again.

Now, to all of you!

Clare, I've thought of you often since you first wrote about being a cancer survivor. I'm so glad you have your daughter. I, too, am the mother of one child. I savor every day, and every minute.

Shey: I've wondered before what an ordinary day looks like. Mine never seen ordinary. Thanks for visiting and your comment.

Thanks Protege. Yes, joy and sorrow intertwined. All the time, I think.

Lola, Frugal, and Ms Lucy: Thank you.

Completely: Thank you for visiting. I've visited your blog and I think you're very brave and honest.

Modest: You're welcome, and thank you for visiting.

Droll: Yes. It's a hard time for many. We need to keep our spirits up and help each other do it. Today...well, I just needed to get down to the heart of things. It was helpful for me to post what I did. I had a good Wednesday, feeling lighter for having shared.

Duchesse: So sorry about your friend. That is much too young. Thanks.

Woman of NI: Thank you, and you're welcome. So powerful to connect with people on experiences we all share.

Thank you Ingrid. Your last sentence could be the moral for all of us today. Don't wait.

Gal Friday said...

The details of this particular crash(does it seem lately that there are more and more plane crashes in the news?)broke my heart(family who apparently were living the good life, all together in anticipation of what should have been a happy vacation), and I can see how it triggered all these feelings in you, especially since it hit that much closer to home for you(in a manner of speaking).
This was a blog entry I had to read a few times over, and the comments were so insightful, too.

I just noticed the bouquets in your sidebar. I think they are photos of your own arrangements?

sallymandy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sallymandy said...

Gal: thanks, I appreciate that you stuck with the post all the way through. I know I can be wordy and kind of dense. :) I did so like that poem I found. Maybe you're right about the plane crashes. I'm not sure.

Re the flower pix: I did the bottom two designs, but the top is a flower box. I love all that.

Happy Thursday.

Relyn said...

OH! What an amazing poem. I shall dream of it, tonight. And wake to just such a dawn. Thank you so much for the introduction to a new love.