Thursday, July 24, 2008

Four Years: Sun and Rain and a Single Dragonfly

It was four years ago today that my grandmother passed away. It's been a lost day, a day I haven't quite been sure what to do with. When my grandfather died in October of 2000 it was the first time I'd lost such a significant member of my family, someone I was so close with, whose blood still runs in my veins. I was lost and my world shifted terribly. Several years later, driving home from work, my grief bubbled up as real and desperate as it had that afternoon when I arrived in Idaho and had been told he was gone. I called my mom and asked her if it ever went away. She told me it gets easier but that sometimes, for no reason at all, it hurts just as much as it ever did. Four years later, still heartbroken over grandpa, I lost my grandmother, and as I suspected, it's a wound that is slow to heal. Even now I struggle when I realize how long it's been since I last heard her voice, how my shoulders miss the feel of her hug. And then there are the silly things I miss, which are almost more difficult to grasp than the big ones, because they are things which are not specific to her, but somehow mean more than any possible recreation ever could. Like her Pall Malls, smoked nearly down to the end, stained with her lipstick and crushed, backs broken, in her ashtray. Or her dill bread, which my mother makes every year for me when I'm home, and even though it's grandma's recipe and just as delicious, isn't hers. Or her flowery but sharp handwriting on letters and cards. I miss them terribly. Beyond words.

But despite the day's solemnity, there was still great beauty, in the heat, the heavy clouds and thunder which shook over us, and the way it managed to rain even as the clouds dissipated, pulling back and revealing the blazing blue heavens above before moving away to the east. It was my favorite kind of rain, when the drops, catching the light of the returning sun, fall from the sky in brilliant and blinding golden sheets and the ground rises up, suddenly green and fresh like it hasn't been in months. There were two men in the park today dancing and playing simultaneously in both the sun and the rain with their Golden, a large, shaggy, blond horse of a dog with enormous paws and a long, heavy coat. He was much larger than Duncan but no less exuberant. They tossed a Frisbee back and forth, low to the ground so the dog could chase between them and under it as it passed just above his head, then leap into the air to grab it, which he did remarkably well. He was a big, grinning, goof, this dog and just standing back and watching them play was enough to rouse me out of the sadness of the day, to turn my face from the last of the refreshing drops, barely falling from the leaves, and into the soothing sunshine. Duncan sat next to me, his tail wagging back and forth across the piles of freshly mowed grass, now clumped in wet heaps around us, looking up at me occasionally to see if I'd take him over to join in the fun. Finally, when the dog tired of playing chase, he simply threw himself into the arms of the closest man, knocking him over and slathering his head and neck with enormous wet kisses, a grin spread wide across his glorious face. The other man joined them and together they rolled and wrestled and took turns being knocked over by their companion, whose tail never once stopped wagging. It was a joyous sight and before we returned home Duncan and I took our turn at playing in the grass under the trees and after we tired we stayed a moment longer, paw to hand, he caught up in his thoughts and me in mine. A heavy, droning dragonfly finally broke our calm as it passed over Duncan's nose and moved across the shade toward the big puddle which had formed in a low place on the sidewalk. I knew that dragonfly and so we followed it until it finally outraced us and vanished into the grass.

The whole scene made me think of a very popular video my mother emailed me recently, which has played in my mind almost constantly since she sent it. It's become quite the sensation lately and I apologize first, for having an awfully video-heavy week, and second, if you've seen it before. It has nothing to do with dogs (quite the opposite actually) but everything to do with wild, unconditional love, the kind that does not end, but survives separation and grief and even time. This is what I'm thinking about tonight and I think you should, too.


traci said...

What a beautiful video! I know your grandma (and grandpa) are both out there loving you still. As is mine. I miss her cackle, the way she would tell you the simplest thing like it was a great secret and then laugh. Oh! How she would laugh!

Duncan's Internet Friend said...

Okay, so was I supposed to cry? I am sitting here bawling and blowing my nose - That. Was. Beautiful.

dad said...

Wow! Thanks, sonny boy.

Greg said...

Aww, if I hadn't shed enough tears this week. This was absolutely beautiful...the post, the video...and as always, at the heart of it all, that wonderful bond between you and Duncan.

Thank you, my friend, for spreading a little more love around the Internet. I'm told it's all we need.

: )

caboval said...

OMG I couldnt even barely watch the beginning! I had to stop the video! I thought of my mom and dad who I just lost 2 years ago and broke down crying! That was unexpected! But videos like that get me too choked up! Even though its so beautiful.

Sue said...

Thank you so much for this awesome post. It hit a special spot for me. I was very, very close to my Grandma - "Omi". Although she lived in Germany, and I only got to see her every couple of years, she was as special to me as anyone could be. She passed away on 8/16/00, and I will never, ever forget that phone call, or the emptiness I felt after getting it. I was, and continue to be thankful for the time we did get to spend together, including her last visit to the U.S. in Nov. of 1993, when she spent 2 months with us, and was able to be here when my youngest daughter was born. Precious, precious memories that will last for a lifetime.

I dreamt about her just the other night, a whole, wonderful night spent with her, and it warmed my spirit and reminded me that although we may no longer be able to see them, they are still with us. No doubt about it.

Marty said...


Your heart is going to completely break my heart someday.

Thank you, for this beautiful post and this beautiful video.

I just keep writing you thank you notes because I don't know when I've met a stranger who has brought me so much joy! You do it with your writing. But, more than anything, you do it with your heart.


CJ said...

I was thinking I'm going to look at a couple more of my favorite blogs before I hit the sack tonight and I'm glad I did. Yet another beautiful post and video. Thanks Curt.

Kevi said...

It is Thursday. I have been busy going through my many boxes of things.

Today, I came across your grandmother's funeral program. I sat and read the poem on the back;her beautiful picture made me smile. I no longer not believe it to be a coincidence.

EJB said...

Oiddle oiddle oiddle.

Max Mom said...

Hey there Curt,
As I said in another comment this morning...I'm musing through some of your old blogposts... and they are as beautiful as ever! You have however grown so much since 2008 - both in your writing and hear.
I must tell you a secret: My 'Sprinkling of Maxdog', i.e. Toby, was born on the 24th July...exactly 2 months after Max's passing. This date is significant to me too, because it was the start of my healing...showing me clearly that through the pain, a different light shines - one of hope and promise.
Sending lotsaluv