|Oil Painting: "Birch Trees" by Tatiana Yanovskaya-Sink / From Russia with Art|
My friend Renie drew her last breath three years ago. She was so young. And so alive. And so loved. She chose her way out, not by hurrying death in any way, but simply by being present for it. Courageous beyond belief. Cancer took over her liver, and it was not an easy way to go.
But before that and a good while back we worked together for five years. Amazing woman. Gifted writer. A spirit so free, so unfettered by convention, it's a wonder she stayed earth-bound as long as she did. She was never easy to track down and I'm not given to calling people for help, but amazingly, during my darkest, most difficult why-is-this-happening-to-me moments, she never failed to answer my distressed phone calls. Oh, honey, that's SO big. And I was off and running and she was listening with her low coos and her OhHoneys. Nothing I said, no amount of despair, no level of wretchedness turned her away.
A mutual friend often organizes events to remember and to honor Renie. I can't bring myself to go to a single one. I just haven't found the courage to show up for the level of grief I fear I'll encounter in a group lament for our friend.
So I remember her quietly.
Maybe someday, I'll be a big girl.
But not today.
Renie loved rocks, water, and trees.
Here's a snippit from Robert Frost's poem Birches
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willingly misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth is the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.