From the complications of loving you
I think there is no end or return.
No answer, no coming out of it.

— Mary Oliver, “A Pretty Song”

IMG_1535Do you ever find yourself wondering how life streams by so fast?

Each week we seem to pack more in. Deadlines and commitments never fail to ratchet up. A spring rush oozes from winter dreams mired in the disappointment of a prior year.

It’s so hard to slow down.

Yet at times we also catch ourselves in a pure wash of remembrance, suspended for moments or even a late afternoon. Feeling close to loved ones and their essence, hearing their laughter again. Doing so winnows the chafe from our lives

Undiminished and brilliant, altered in the shifting light of memory and time.

Conveying that, yes, summer will eventually return.

Being present, even with the past.

By this I don’t mean being frozen in nostalgia or inertia. Rather, like a couple who sits in Adirondack chairs regarding their perennials and a light breeze, they take notice–rather than rushing out to do more errands with more highway maniacs.

Being present, even with the past. And with those whose bright futures build from the energy and gifts of their parents and elders.

We all have associations with those we miss, whether marked this recent Memorial Day weekend, or every day. I carry many with my mother, who gave us a magnolia tree when my children were small. We transplanted it to our current home more than two decades ago, and after struggling to adapt in new soil, the tree bloomed every year, a creamy fragrance filling one’s senses on the front lawn.

Curiously, the magnolia did not bloom this year. As Denise and I prepare to sell our home, letting go of the place we raised a family, and turn it over to another, readying to let go of the space we clung to while grieving our son, including his room, this tree, healthy as ever, may be sending us a message. Perhaps it was stunted by an erratic, cold spring. Perhaps she’s not quite ready for us to leave.

We believe that the silky blossoms will return. We choose to believe. We must.

Surely, it will pop and rave again.

I have many other associations with her, and here is one from this weekend. My wife and I traversed much of the state of Maine together, first to see the graduation of our good friend’s daughter up in Limestone, where Eva thrived at the magnet Maine School of Science and Mathematics.

Being with our friends to celebrate her accomplishment and their nurturing footings as a family felt right. And something my mother would have done as well. Grounded in the joy of a daughter’s voice and her confident, loping stride during commencement, a full life opening before her.

Finding places and time to sit with those we love.

A day later, we found ourselves on a granite bench overlooking Machias Bay. It is my mom’s bench, a place near where she loved to be outside our family’s camp. Grounded in a place where she and our family seek solace, and often, healing.

Near ledges where we again saw seals playing, rising from the water as if channeling a teenager’s spirit and muscle.

Yes, we, traveled many highway miles last weekend—more than I’d like to count. But we also found places and time to sit with those we love.