In the interstitial moment between birth and death a universe comes into existence, something that never before existed and existed always, new and well-known, unseen and visible for eternity.
Measure it well for it is incapable of measurement, and ends without warning and precisely on schedule. In the momentary breath that marks the transit, we proceed nowhere and cannot return to where we began.
As 33,000 feet, you want the smoothness that experience tells you, the sky will once again deny. Strapped in, you contemplate cursing the gods of travel, but no, they are simply meeting your expectations. Getting this close to heaven was once, she says, a mystical and spiritual experience, but then we transcended all of that with the first step on the lunar surface, overall a small step from one man and a crushing of dreams for all but the great religious cynics of mankind. With clouds below obscuring all you know the sun is mocking, surrounding your dark mood, painting it darker and you begin to hope that the thunderstorm that will greet your arrival can somehow wash away the hesitation of an eternity trapped in a seat on the lowest margins of heaven.
My mother no longer speaks to me. It is not that she has been dead two years, that passage would hardly be an impediment for her. I would like to think she has nothing left to say, having said it all so many times in the past. Some say we will see each other again in heaven, but it is unclear which, if either of us, will be there, and I don’t look forward to once again being a child who can do nothing quite right enough for her, yet again, and for eternity, this time.
The first time I heard Mozart, I swore I was in a biblical garden and I was content to sit and listen for eternity. The serpent came along, as they do in such gardens, as I recall, with the face of Beethoven, though now I am convinced it was just Mahler trying to pass. I still stop and eat from the fruit of Mozart on occasion, but once the food was there for the taking, but now it has to be purchased, and even here you pay and never know until you bite into it just how fresh and juicy it might be. And lately, so much has been overpowering that I cannot digest it, and my growing deafness makes each purchase agonizing, even though I know if I went without, I wouldn’t starve, save for my soul.
It is just that sort of summer day when the sparse clouds crawl ever more slowly across the city, peering down, as if wishing they could end their journey, knowing this won’t happen. On the fields of Falkirk and Culloden Moor stained with the blood of ancestors who, only now, claim me as one of them, allow me to wear the tartan, the clouds build and flee without ever pausing to peer down on the carnage below. They want only to move on, continue the passage, give endless chase to the sun, certain they will fail and fall, only to take up the chase again onward into eternity.
He only wants to live forever, or if not, at least until a week from Thursday. Important things always happen on Wednesdays, he is convinced. He has no logical reason for his belief, but it is his and he will not be shaken from it. “It is a matter of faith,” he says “and you can borrow it or leave it, but it’s mine.” He does like to own things, and ideas are the greatest things in his world. He is certain he will die on a Wednesday, not that his death will be all that important, though he wouldn’t mind it so, but he wants to be cremated, wants some of his ashes left in a church, any church, just to let them know we are all created in God’s image and this Wednesday will for him, Ash Wednesday.
She left this evening, slid away silently her goodbyes long ago said. She was a feather carried on a gentle breeze, refusing to land, until at last the earth reached up and reclaimed her, and she settled gently, her voyage over, our memories of her smile, her nod, her knowing winks, now fixed for eternity.
Spring has arrived, however begrudgingly, and the young woman pushes the older woman’s wheelchair along the paths of the great park. Neither speaks, but each knows this could be the last time they do this. That shared knowledge paints each flower in a more vibrant hue, each fallen petal is quickly but individually mourned for, its beauty draining back into the soil. The older woman struggles hard to fully capture each view for she knows that it is possible that it will have to last her an eternity.