Terry Pratchett, 1948-2015, RIP
My mom died a year ago today. Yesterday I attended a memorial service for my best friend’s mom, who died this past February. Also in February, Leonard Nimoy took a final bow and exited stage left. Most recently — just last Thursday — another star went out, and it was one that shone brilliantly in the sky for so many of us.
Sir Terry Pratchett finally got to meet one of his key characters. I like to think that, for him, it might have been like meeting an old friend — and sadly, a visitor he’s been expecting for quite a while now. We fans know that Death personally attends the passing of wizards.
And Terry Pratchett was a wizard beyond compare.
Seven billion flames flicker in the night. Some burn bright and fierce, some soft and steady, some jump and dance. Every turn of the world, 350,000 tiny new flames begin to shine.
And 150,000 go out.
A flame that always lit my world, always warmed me, always guided me, no longer illuminates my dark.
My mom. 1924-2014.
“And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.“
Death Watch. A vigil over a dying person. Waiting. Not knowing which tick of the clock brings change. Tick. This one? Tock. This one?
There are other watches. Surgery watch. That one often brings good news. One can be hopeful. The doctor approaches with a smile; tension releases in a flood of relief.
The only relief here is that someone else, someone you love, is finally free from pain. For the rest there is only loss.
The other side of a life. Birth watch. The watch that brings joy. And cigars and balloons.
Birth. Tick. Death. Tock.
Grains of sand passing through the hourglass of life. Each of us having that brief quick ride through the throat of reality.
And having gone from there to there, at last, coming to rest.
The strange attractor that centers my universe for now is the growing certainty my parents won’t see another winter. Even the fullness of summer may outdistance them. The spectre came as slowly as time and a well life permits, but a thousand similes paint its implacable gait. Ages turn into years become months, then weeks, days, finally hours and minutes. All clocks stop eventually.
That they shall likely walk off into the Great Unknown almost simultaneously describes in the final act the entire arc of their life. In a word: together. Happily — no, joyfully — married for nearly seven decades. Never cursed with wealth, but ever blessed with love, they were rich beyond measure. They are why, even still, I believe in love.
To the extent I am a good person, look no further than my mother and my father.
When it’s 3 AM and the bad moon rises; lunacy.
When darkness and disappointment rip the soul.
When tears no longer wash away the pain.
When anger blots mind with spilled-ink thoughts.
When fear grows tall in cornrows of dismay.
When silence echoes with loss and cost.
When life’s hollows capture rage and regret.
When bone ache of could haves, should haves, weigh heavy.
When angels hide and demons call.
When sorrow seems the guiding star.
When unspoke pleas on deaf ears fall.
When good deeds seem unseen; each misstep marked.
When luck sours; curdled dreams gone; drained.
When words fail; brightness tarnished brass.
When age brings wear and weariness.
When change whips flesh from back; submission.
Branches move in the wind; look!
On the horizon a storm brews.
When love’s a dead ember; coals gone to charcoal.
When hope tastes like ashes and dust.
When you stand alone in the crowd.
When blank faces don’t look back; eyes avoid.
When reaching hands grasp nothing.
When longing overtakes sense and senses.
When empty arms make a cold vacuum.
When heart breaks on lonely shores; beauty lost.
The storm comes.
Winds blow; boughs break.
Lightning cracks; rains come.
The storm passes.
Air cools; breeze blows.
Day dawns; light comes.
Moon Spirits, 4/5