The phone call comes to a slow and careful end, as they all do now; he, measuring out syllables, weighing only words worthy of the energy they exact.  He chooses words plump with praise and affection, even though the voice is skeletal and frail.  For a moment after, I stay still in the chair by the window, in the muffle of high noon, while men dig irrigation channels in the soil not far below.  My chest expands with the new grief which rises up, like a cloud, each time he loses another muscle of independence.  This time, his arm failed to raise him up.  It, too, is seceding from the union that he was.

We talked about the book that he wants to finish writing by the end of summer; how this illness threatens like a coming thunderstorm to dissolve everything before the words are planted.  And could I help? I wondered.  “I need all the help I can get to finish” he said gently, meaning the book, I think.  But I am hearing, and wondering, about the help we need to finish a life.

I will go and read the manuscript with him, of course; will get on my knees, if need be, and press his words into the heart of the earth, where they will take root.  Is that the secret to finishing, to dying, at last?  That we take up the best of the conversation we have been living and plant it, with a wild and unspoken hope, in the world, in the service of life again, the birth of something new?

I am taking note.  I am learning about living, about finishing, about spending every word well.  Notes from today:

Distill the conversation down to what you love.
Plant it in the world, not holding back, no, not a muscle’s load of who you are.
Let go, and let the mighty powers of earth and heaven bring it to its sweet fruition;
whatever that may be,
wherever it may grow,
far,
far beyond your powers to see, or plan, or know.


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~ by Susan on 05/06/2010.

3 Responses to “”

  1. I’m thinking about you and your father, Susan, and wondering if the photo is of his chair and, perhaps, the piece that you were weaving for him. If so, it’s a lovely expression of present, as in gift, and presence, as in yours, which should certainly help him finish his book.

  2. My heart is with you Susan. This post is both especially touching and thought provoking…thank you.

  3. Thank you, Susan, for sharing with us in your poetic and loving way this painful journey. What a tribute to your father. Caroline

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