When I pulled back the curtains to see the sun rise, I thought the panes of my French door were spectacularly frosted over. Until I realized the glass was completely shattered. I have friends like that who have been through so much you kinda wonder how they can still stand without crumbling. Broken but still beautiful.
The Skinny Winnie Fireplace/Heater that I gifted myself for Thanksgiving, arrived with a big scratch on its painted front. Its mantel-top became unglued and fell off in the process of my trying to remove the unit from the packaging. And then, there was a slight problem getting it to stand upright. But once it got unpacked, there was no way the fireplace was going to be sent back. Even scraped, unglued, and off-kilter. I was hell-bent on having the thing installed and running before Turkey Day. Sensing my determination, a devoted friend came over to help put it in place.
My Thanksgiving is not supposed to be a food-frenzy this year. Invited to another devoted friend’s Thanksgiving dinner, I am simply going to cook a tiny turkey breast for myself, and maybe a sweet potato dish, so I can have traditional leftovers for the weekend. The fake fireplace is to distract me with comforts other than food at this difficult time of the year, the time when some of us who have suffered great losses question what we really need, what we want, and what we have to be grateful for.
So my dog and I are basking in light and warmth. At this moment, I’m feeling very blessed. And I’m wishing everyone lots of light and warmth, and devoted friends.
What’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?
Weeks ago, I was walking by the pier across from Ithaca’s Stewart Park Pavilion, a favorite place of my daughter Marika. Friends had told me it was the time of the year when the veil between the physical world and the non-physical, or spiritual world, was at its thinnest. Meaning, if there was any time to reach out to my daughter who died, it was then. Not that I wasn’t already singing or talking to Marika almost every hour of every day. But it would be the best time to listen for her, to maybe hear her. So I was walking in the rain, in the park, with my camera. Looking for the spirit of my daughter.
For years it had felt like Marika was watching me, sending occasional messages. But I haven’t been able to feel her, her presence, lately. Mediums had never really sensed her, so long ago I gave up seeking their help in finding her. People told me I was trying too hard or not trying hard enough. I was not open enough or not sensitive enough. Ask Spirit for a specific sign, friends more experienced in matters of the afterlife advised. But there’s no way I’ve ever been able to ask my dead daughter to leave an empty parking spot for me at Wegmans, or to send me a heron, or even just a feather. Although, if any of these ever happen to appear I’m more than likely to thank Marika for it. Mostly though, these days I go about believing her spirit is out there but doesn’t want to be bothered.
In Stewart Park a seagull was perched on a rail at the end of the pier. It watched as I slowly approached with my eyes hidden from view, glued instead to the bird’s image in the LCD screen of the camera. Aware the gull could fly off quickly at any moment, I began singing to it, in the hope of hypnotizing it to stay longer. A Kate McGarrigle song had been stuck in my head for days after seeing the Linda Ronstadt movie, a song I used to sing to my daughter when she was very young:
Some say the heart is just like a wheel/ When you bend it you can’t mend it/ But my love for you is like a sinking ship/ And my heart is on that ship out in mid-ocean.
I never got to see the bird, except through the camera. Viewing the digital images later in Photoshop, I was struck by how close it was to me. Without focusing on me, it had been aware of my every move. It didn’t take off until I looked up to meet it eye-to-eye.
What I learned last week is that if I show up and listen to someone else’s story, and do something to help out—then my walk in the woods, the laundry, my photo-of-the-week and writing will probably not get done. But if I don’t allow myself to stress out over what I didn’t get accomplished, I can end up feeling magnificently productive and blessed anyway.
What did you do last week that got in the way of everything else you intended to do?