This We Have Now
This we have now
is not imagination.
This is not
grief or joy.
Not a judging state,
or an elation,
Those come and go.
This is the presence that doesn't.
From Essential Rumi
by Coleman Barks
It’s cooler today that it was two years ago. But the sky is the same clear blue that it was that day. That day when the world we created stopped spinning and its time disappeared. I could not fathom what would come next. Could come next. Dutifully and with no emotion, Earth continued around the sun and dragged us with her, without you. We’ve swung around a second time and somehow, for some unknowable reason, I awoke this morning and birds were chirping.
Your mom and Donald came over today. We drank wine, talked, looked at pictures, and talked some more. We filled purple balloons with helium and wrote messages on them and let them fly up into that clear blue sky. It was beautiful. And it was sad. Very sad. We cried and held each other. We came inside and had dinner and drank more wine, looked at more pictures, talked some more then ate. I think you would have enjoyed it.
And the boys – You’d be so proud of your boys. They’ve grown up so much. They really are amazing. We lit candles at church before the service. And the balloons we sent to you were their idea. And also the messages they wrote on them with Sharpies. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you how much they miss you.
Two years. Two years. I can’t believe it’s really been two fucking years. It’s one of those strange “time things,” you know? It both feels like it’s been forever and no time at all. And then there is the simple fact that it’s the second year. And the second year has been different. The first year comes with all this, … , this stuff. It’s the first year, it’s symbolic, you have to get through the first year, and you just have to get through it. There are no options. It’s a big milestone and it requires a certain acknowledgement. The second year? I didn’t really know what to do. What was I supposed to do? It now just becomes the first, next year to endure. That’s really it.
I think back to two years ago and can only shake my head in disbelief. I half-way joke with some people that “I must be living in a Greek drama or a Russian novel. I don’t know which, but it’s one of the two. Ha, ha.” Some people laugh; sort of, but most just tilt their head sideways. I sometimes try to explain the juxtaposition of life and death. Of chaos and evil and love. And how love and life must win over evil and death, but our individual lives are too short to see the ending so we are left unresolved. I think that just makes people depressed so I mostly shut up or change the subject to the weather or baseball.
But for now, Russian or Greek, here I am – In the eternal presence that, as Rumi says, neither comes nor goes. It just is.
I sometimes will be doing something – something we’d do together – driving somewhere, sitting and reading, small things – and imagine you are still here. And then I realize that you are not. But it's really a matter of timing, for you are, in fact, here, in this space. But sadly, not also in this time. Not in my present time. At least not anymore. Time left you behind and cursed us to continue on. To continue to live in this present time. To live on and love again, in a new time. A new presence. And we are finding ways, slowly, tentatively, to live and love again, in this new life. In this current presence.
I’m just sad you can’t be with us anymore. In this time.