An achingly beautiful May day, I said to myself this morning. Achingly beautiful.
We had blue skies this morning and sun, but it’s cool yet and the wind is blowing. The trees are in blossom or in bud. Some are tendering new leaves, still pink at the bud, growing, searching, but not yet chlorophylled (or chloro-filled). They’re not green, not yet ready for summer.
Summer will come—who but God could stop it? But spring aches and grieves, because of everything in winter we must leave behind. We travel into summer. those of us who yet live. We belong to time, those of us still on this side of the grave.
I sang in the choir for a funeral today, and singing for that one kept me from attending another. The one for which I sang was for an eighty-year-old man with a full and wonderful life who died too soon. Cancer killed him and did not take long enough to do so. The other funeral, the one I avoided, was for a twenty-one-year-old young woman, a friend of my son’s, killed quickly in a car accident three weeks ago. I don’t know that I ever met her—perhaps I did in the flashing, picture-taking confusion of a pre-prom gathering, perhaps in a hasty introduction at graduation or in one of those embarrassed moments when parents suddenly intrude into high school students’ lives–when your kids’ friends mind their manners and seem genuinely glad to meet you, while your son or daughter melts into the floor, no longer sure of who he to be when his two worlds collide.
Two funerals. Death hid behind every corner today, beneath the ground, in the heart of trees. It filled in the shadows of friends. It rang in hymns and prayers. It lived in memory, it looked into the future.
May has an edge. The spring we’ve waited for so long does not wipe away sadness. It’s still cold. The shade is thin, the future uncertain.
As I waited for the funeral to begin this afternoon, through the organ prelude, as the mourners organized themselves for the processional into the sanctuary—as we waited, I read and re-read a quote my son had posted on his Facebook page:
And in the midst of our dying, as we rise from the organic and sink back ignominiously into the organic, it is a glory and a privilege to love what Death doesn’t touch.
Donna Tart, he says, is the source of the quote. Thinking of Rachel, he says, is the reason.
May is the glory, I say, and the privilege, and love itself is what Death can not touch.