Thich Nhat Hanh says, “For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
Robert died almost a year ago. I could quote Thich Nhat Hanh, and tell you there is no birth, there is no death; life happens when conditions are ripe. Can you wrap your mind around that? This death/not death we all say we want: unexpected, unprepared for, unheralded. There is no way to make this into a story. I’ve moved into Burlington, from the amiable wreck we shared on the islands, with the four tons of pellets for winter heat, the skylit studio, the nights startled by wild dog packs, the snow geese with their eggs at the edge of the pond, the black fox down the trail, the seven deer (until there were three), the bunny on the walkway staring down the dog in the moonlight, the writers on retreat. It was perfect then, for life was ripe. I could say Robert is alive in our hearts, for he touched many. I could say, this winter was hard to bear, even with the little dog asleep on my shoulder, snoring into my hair. You, friends, brought food and solace, with instructions for moving a soul safely through the Bardo. (The Bardo must be crowded these days: Thich Nacht Hanh, bell hooks, a Scottish serial killer, Goddard, the Mighty Bomber, my great friend John Douglas, Sidney Poitier, Peter Bogdanovich, the Queen, Ozzie (the oldest living gorilla in captivity.) In May, the house sold in a day. I tossed out, gave away, handed off ⅔ of all that stuff – what freedom! – and moved to a cabin where the lake banged around the cliffs, the full moon posed on reflection outside my windows. And now, I am “here”, much lighter. “Here” also happened in a day; a quiet space with room to write, trails to walk; push a button and the heat comes on. The dog and I are happy here. Solitude in a packed city. I am masked. I avoid crowds. She trots by my side, a miracle. So I can tell you, here we are, back in the life stream where I am just another idiot tripping over words, with gratitude, grief, curiosity and wonder.