Wednesday, March 28, 2018

How Do You Say Good-bye?

I sit here devastated at the news of the passing of a friend I never met in person. I got word from a friend via Facebook messenger this evening that a mutual blogging friend has died while neither of us knew she was ill. Apparently she kept the news private. Her name was Karin Bugge aka Altadena Hiker. Her writing was witty and smart and funny. She wrote about her dog Albert and the stray cat she started feeding and accidentally adopted. She painted her house and hiked in the hills and cared about community causes.

A year and a half ago I felt compelled to make Karin a set of cloth napkins. I had inherited several prints in a series called "Silent Cinema." Karin loved movies as much as I do and we traded posts about recommended favorites. I was working on another project with some of the prints and decided I wanted Karin to have some napkins because of the cinema connection. I made them up, emailed her for her address, and sent them off. She was delightfully surprised and sent the nicest note to thank me. I will always be glad I followed through with that impulse....

Last year Karin and I messaged back and forth about traveling across the country. She had mentioned she would like to visit Maine, and I wanted to make sure I was here if she planned a trip. I was headed to San Jose, which is several hours away from Altadena, and I couldn't see a way to connect with her on that trip. Then I considered traveling to that area in February but that didn't materialize. I looked forward to having a reason to travel to that part of California and getting a chance to meet her in person. I regret that we didn't get to talk face to face.

I never got a chance to say hello and I'm not sure how to say good-bye.

I turned to one of my favorite poets and found a poem that feels right for this moment. Karin cared about the world and loved animals and marveled at so many things around her. She artfully shared what she thought was important. She will be missed.

Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond
by Mary Oliver

As for life,
I'm humbled,
I'm without words
sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint,
and soft as a spring pond,
both of these 
and over and over,

and long pale afternoons besides,
and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest,
still unhatched

though warm and watched over
by something I have never seen -
a tree angel, perhaps,
or a ghost of holiness.

Every day I walk out into the world
to be dazzled, then to be reflective.

It suffices, it is all comfort -
along with human love,

dog love, water love, little-serpent love,
sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds
flying among the scarlet flowers.
There is hardly time to think about

stopping, and lying down at last
to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when 
time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,

and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.
As for death,
I can't wait to be the hummingbird,
can you?