Show me a day...

"I know I can't sit inside for one more minute so I head for the woods, where today it is so brutally green and alive it almost hurts, and I feel I am being drugged with the scent of wisteria."

These are the words of Nina Riggs from the book I began today, The Bright Hour, a Memoir of Living and Dying. It is a diary of Nina’s life both before, but mostly after, a diagnosis of breast cancer ('one small spot") that ultimately took her life early this year. She was one of the unlucky victims of a cancer that did not leave her, but grew inside her.

"I have a sense of myself as a broken camera - focusing on something out on the horizon (the future, cure, recurrence, death) and then, without warning, zooming in on a blade of grass. And then zooming out to the horizon again, and then back, and then again. I can't figure out where I'm supposed to point this thing."

Nina earned her living as a poet, and her gorgeous writing reflects that talent for poetic lines and images.  It is not as much a diary of dying as much as it is a celebration of life, humor, play, love, friendships, and daily living.

I usually avoid books about dying, best-sellers though they may be. But someone close and important to me is facing the end of life, and so this book has special significance now. Or maybe I am responding  to my own sense of mortality as each winged day escapes my grasp at a speed I cannot comprehend. I am not a worrier by nature. (The only time I can remember worrying until it physically hurt was after my small gift store closed somewhat unexpectedly after seven years, and so I faced lots of bills with no job to pay them. I watched many a middle-of-the-night infomercial.) Otherwise, I don’t tend hang on long to frets and worries.

Recently, though, I remind myself quite often that things can change in an instant, (and haven’t each of us had THAT lesson painfully learned), that age comes with increased danger to one's longevity, and that I must not EVER take for granted the very nice life I have. I know it is why I am embracing each new day and trying to enjoy the small but lovely daily morsels of pleasure.

Photograph by John Schoenwalter on card by The Borealis Press Inc.

Photograph by John Schoenwalter on card by The Borealis Press Inc.

This card sits on the table of our entrance hall.  I find myself obsessing over Facebook videos of small children as they discover something new: a food, a sound, a playful object, gravity, dance…

Thomas Merton said it, and recently I put it on a banner in the sky...