Tuesday, September 11, 2007

The Grim Reaper, a reminder to be mindful...

I have a little habit of reading the obituary column in the newspaper, a habit I picked up from my grandmother. She'd sit at her Formica kitchen table every morning drinking Red Rose tea with cream and sugar (very English) while pouring over the obituaries in the Boston Globe.

The Globe is a good sized newspaper harboring column after column of deaths in tiny lettering, unlike our local paper where most of us don't need a magnifying lens to read the print.

When I see the name of someone I know it feels like a punch in the chest and within the last month or so, I've had a couple of punches.

Last month, my friend Steve died. As an artist, he created hundreds of oil and acrylic abstracts and silk screened scarves. He also worked as a rehab counselor, dubbed himself a beekeeper--with ten or twelve hives in his back yard, had a dry wit and always made me laugh. His office walls were covered with full-sized kites -- stop light red, kelly green and lemon yellow -- with sperm-like tails stuck into position with staples and push pins. Kites have always reminded me of freedom. Now they remind me of Steve.

Steve escaped the grim reaper for a few years after his diagnosis and then its knock came back with a vengeance. The last time I saw him, it was during his remission three years ago. We ate dinner at the Cantina in Walnut Creek and talked about life, our careers, and his fearlessness about dying.

And just this morning, I read about Eddi. Eddi and I found our way to each other through a mutual friend in grad school. I used to think we were a lot alike until I read her obituary today -- she was literally classified as a genius. (no wonder she didn't understand how I could never make friends with statistics or my inability to grasp the concepts all things involving numbers...).

She had a zest for life that shot out through her eyes -- I've still not met anyone whose eyes could out-sparkle those blue dazzlers. They were a mixture of excitement, curiosity and fun -- that made me want to jump behind them to see whatever it was she saw.

We shared a teary goodbye one foggy morning at the Safeway parking lot ten plus years ago when she, her husband, and their cat moved to Washington. Then we lost touch.

Their deaths remind for me to be conscious and grateful for the everyday things in life --the tight squeeze around my neck from Sammie or JD, Baby Kyle's cuddle and his contagious giggles, a sweet kiss good night from Rick, the simple yet so important conversations with family, friends--and strangers.

Here's to staying conscious~
~cindy

Writing prompt: 'When I look in your eyes ......' (write for 20 minutes about the first set of eyes that come into your mind -- doesn't matter if it's true or not)

~c

16 comments:

Susan Bono said...

I felt fortunate to read this piece on 9/11--it's a real tribute to the preciousness of life.Thanks, Cindy!

Anonymous said...

I like the overall toneand purpose of your blog, Cindy..friendly and thoughtful...."coffee cup stream of consciousness" I would call it...I'll be back.. COK

Karlene said...

Reading your blog this morning reminded me to be in the "Zen"...in the moment....a good thought to start the day.
Karlene

Anonymous said...

You are such a grood writer. I too love to read the obituaries from my home town. Reading your piece just reminded me of what should be precious to us everyday and all of the wonderful things around us.

One Lucky Mom said...

Congratulations on launching your new blog! Fun reading comes from good writing. This blog will be fun to follow.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your friends. Good luck on your blog and your book.

she said...

beautiful post! i feel the heart ache and gift of enlightenment it brings all at once

every soul we cross paths with is temporary and purposeful i believe

part of a grander constellation, with gratitude a great way to illuminate the individual stars

mtw said...

I thought I was the only one who perused the obits! Like "anonymous", I'm a regular reader of such news in my hometown paper online. Glad to see I'm not alone.

Thanks for adding some powerful context to my curious behavior!

(Congrats on birthing your new blog. Love it!)

mum4justice said...

I read your post yesterday and revisited today. I needed time to digest, as it brought me back to that very same formica table.

These people came into your life with reason...each leaving you with something to cherish forever.

There was a little something I picked up on ...I wonder if you & Eddi are more "alike" than you think?
you said "She had a zest for life that shot out through her eyes"

I believe you have that very same zest... only yours shoots out in your writing!

Cindy said...

susan bono...
thank you, susan. yes, life is precious...i suppose remembering it in the moment is the tough part as i slog through the day...thank you for visiting
~cindy

Cindy said...

cok...
great idea coffee cup stream of consciousness....i love that!
~cindy

Cindy said...

one lucky mom...
oh, coming from you that is such a lovely compliment, my friend! thank you~
I'm glad you'll be back...and will visit you, too
~c

Cindy said...

mum4justice...
thank you...how nice, and right back to you~
~ac

Cindy said...

mtw...
you are welcome. isn't it funny how we keep things under wraps? i'll be there are thousands of closet obit readers...just like us!
thanks for visiting and the congrats!~c

Cindy said...

anonymous ...
thank you for your nice words...it's nice there's company reading those obits right along side me-i was thinking about that this morning and realizing some day my name will be there--wonder if my kids will use all of my names??? thanks for your honesty
~cindy

Cindy said...

karlene...
those zen moments are a little far and few between-at least for me--but i love them when they happen! ~c