It’s a smoky morning. Air currents are drifting over the southern Siskiyous from Happy Camp in California and bringing the scent of wildfire right to Sunshine Hill. Two firefighters died yesterday fighting one of those conflagrations. It was on the Medford news last night. They were, I think, from the Rogue Valley. I opened my heart to them and to their families and then turned off the TV to read. Suddenly our American authors are writing good literature again. I’ve been absorbing a new book every three days or so, something I’ve not done in years. While John was sick I couldn’t hold my focus on the page--not even on one sentence. Occasionally I’d find an author that could hold me on the pinpoint of his or her thoughts and images, but not often. And as John drifted closer to the end of his earth-life, my mind must have taken up residence inside him to intuit his wants and needs, and nothing could remain of me for books or even for myself.
This is a good sign, Christin; I told myself as I snarfed down the book I’d bought to take with me to the family reunion, and then picked up the alternate. This must be how you heal yourself. There’s wholeness in the beauty and order of a well written sentence. It’s a magic wand, a miracle of a thing. It touches the mind, and voila! I feel the shift of being in me. Annie Dillard wrote THE MAYFAIRS while I wasn’t reading. And Marianne Wiggins gave us THE SHADOW CATCHER. Ron Hanson took on one of my favorite Gerard Manley Hopkins poems, “The Wreck of the Deutschland,” and came up with the brilliant novel, EXILES. These and several others I thought I might take on the plane all have been consumed. So the other day after my doctor’s appointment during which I was declared healthy and with a clear mammogram, I stopped off at the used book store with a few paperbacks I’ll never read again (none of them among the above which will become a permanent part of my little library). I’d trade those paperbacks for some others that I could read during the flight to Denver. Almost immediately I found a new book by Mary Gordon--new to me, that is: PEARL. And what was this?: Sebastian Barry wrote a new book while I thought the good writers were holing up in their writing rooms with writer’s block: A LONG LONG WAY. Turns out the writers hadn’t stop writing; I’d stopped noticing.
I made my trade and walked out with the two books. They are in my carry on, ready to put under the seat on the small turbo prop out of Medford early tomorrow morning. First stop: Portland. There I have only 30 minutes to find the United flight to Denver. I’ll run. Also in my carry on are some of John’s ashes for our memorial. There’s a large abalone shell to mix his ashes with Dale’s and George’s before we scatter them. The last poem I wrote for him, an album of his pictures, and the words to “We’ll Sing in the Sunshine” are packed as well. Weighed down with all that plus camera, iPod, cell phone, journal and personal items, the debaters in my mind have bets on whether I will actually “run” through the terminal! The voice that debated against taking my too heavy notebook computer won.
This trip will be my first alone since -- what is it the Hindus say? -- since John dropped his body. When the plane climbs through the smoke filled sky into the blue, I’ll think of all the flights of joy we had together, the flights towards clarity. I’ll think of the way aviation as a way of life for both my father and my husband has ended by giving wings to my own spirit. And I’ll breathe a thank you to the One who made all of this possible.