Thursday, September 28, 2006

From Light to Light

Tuesday morning I took my nearly 90 year-old grandmother on a trip to her doctor's. From the waiting room windows I could see across the highway to a lovely golf course with a fountain and lots of trees and open swaths of grass, a beautiful view. Doing my best to ignore Family Feud on the waiting room television, I opened my journal and took out a fountain pen.

9:22 a.m.

The sun is shining this morning The trees throw light back from their leaves, leaves that are showing the beginning of the autumn change, some darkening, some paling, some shifting from the greens they've held so faithfully all summer. The air is relatively still today. The sunshine lies stretched across the golf course lawn like a languorous cat. In the fountain, water glints and flashes as it ripples to the sides. The air glows about us, a lazy, living thing.

I've always loved autumn, the quieting of the natural world, the softening of the crickets' and cicadas' intense songs, the hush of wind through drying grasses, the graceful silver of spiders' balloon threads streaming from every rising stem across the fields as the lowering western sun sets them afire.

3:10 p.m.

I've been at my grandmother's all afternoon, since we returned home. A few minutes ago she got a call from a good friend's sister, telling her that Jane died this morning. My grandmother had just been putting together a copy of the local paper, intending to take it to Jane this evening.

I'm not sure what "this morning" meant, whether Jane breathed from life to life in the sleepy darkness of predawn or in the bright sunshine of the mid-morning I wrote about only hours ago. Either way, I like to think she stepped from one world to the next nimbly, her feet newly quickened and sure, a bright smile on her face as her Beloved took her hand to steady her crossing.

Autumn is a beautiful time of year. The leaves, of course, are gorgeous. It's the quality of light, though, that I love fiercely; there is something brighter, more immediate about it, as though it shines richly forth from another realm, one that draws closer to this world as the earth dutifully begins her descent into the winter darkness that precedes a more brilliant light and life. I'd never really thought of it all that way until Tuesday with Jane's passing and all this amazing, painfully glorious light.

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