Wednesday, January 30, 2013

A Formal Feeling

We got home yesterday from a trip to Colorado, where we spent nearly every moment surrounded by family, wonderful and exhausting. Noah's siblings (he has five of them) flew in from Huntington Beach and Portland, the first time in years we were all in one place. Energy was high and a bit wild, even though we were there to mourn a death. Maybe because we were there to mourn a death. Noah and his older brother, Zach, cooked wonderful spicy Mexican food, carnitas and pickled onions, beans with chile sauce and tomatillo sauce, the younger sisters and Zach's wife Susie helped clean up, and Ayla and Indy, the only grandchildren, ran among us nearly feral yet looked after by all. We spent a lot of time sitting at restaurants and breweries, gathered around tables with Noah's grandfather who goes by the Czech word  Dédé (short vowels, not long), and Sonja's brothers and sister-in-law. We ate a lot, drank a lot, and laughed a lot, which seemed fine at the time but in retrospect, I worry if it was jarring to Sonja. I don't know. It's hard to know how to be.

In the few quiet moments, I wondered about what I would write here when I got back. The chaos and cajoling love of this family left me filled up and wrung out, both at once. A sort of primal state that saved little room for thought or reflection. It seems there is more that I should say, but I can't tell Scott and Sonja's story. I can only tell mine.

The day after the memorial service, I woke up in Sonja's guest bedroom and saw the morning light on the western mountains. The light was pink like a newborn and I felt very alive, and very happy to be here. I got my coffee and went back up to the window, where I sat on the floor and said a prayer for all the many people this death has left behind. Light a candle, bake a dish, there is so little we can do for the mourning. It was good to see those mountains again, even from Fort Collins where you can't see Mt. Evans or Pikes Peak or the eagle face of Long's. The words of Emily Dickinson dropped into my brain--after great pain, a formal feeling comes--. The sky was the same pink I'd see a few days later, from the airplane, traveling west to east, which, to quote Pam Houston poorly, any old star will tell you is the wrong way to go.  A gorgeous color, even though it was only a faded scarlet, which I'd watch dim to white flying over the curve of the earth with my head back, crying and missing everything, missing home.


  1. Although your sadness makes my heart ache a bit, particularly your melancholy for home, I am grateful for the beautiful way in which you tell it.

  2. As always, beautifully and achingly written... Being from a big, wildly affectionate family I identify with the "cajoling" and also with being "filled up and wrung out" all at once.
    Take care. Do take pleasure in the emerald forests as well as the pink skies. xoxo

  3. You bump words together and make art.
    You bump words together and give your heart.
    You'll figure it out. I promise you, you will.

  4. Filled up and wrung out at once. It says it so perfectly. When all that recedes again the space can feel like a swath of emptiness. You write it so achingly true you make me miss home too. Why did we ever think it was a good idea to live in far flung places. I wonder that nowadays.

  5. The juxtaposition of laughter and tears, coming and going, looking forward and looking back...stellar as always, Vesuv.

  6. And Home is missing you, too, my darling girl.



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