My father died at high noon on the Spring Equinox, a time of earthly balance when day and night are everywhere the same. The following is a tribute...
Written March 20, 1998: I have emerged from the shadow of my father’s death. A year has passed, 365 days of darkness. The noon sun of the Spring Equinox rises high—illuminating memories of the comet Hale Bopp streaking across a night sky one year ago.
My soul had no heart for spring last year. I found no joy in the spiraling call of the red-tailed hawk, in the raw-boned bucks of the new calves, nor in the straight-up leaps of the long-legged lambs. My spirit dwelt in sadness—stayed anchored to the twin calf lying frozen beneath a snowdrift, reached inside this dark place of loss as I had reached inside the dying ewe, my hand as desperate to pull life from her womb as I had been to draw meaning from my father’s last breath. Neither was within my grasp.
A new spring has arrived. I am standing on the shores of the Missouri River. Canada geese skim the river’s rippling, wet skin, pushing against her southward flow. They lift from the water and fly a hundred feet north, then dip back onto the water only to drift a hundred and fifty feet south. The river teases them, and they allow it. When the time comes to spread their wings, they will shake her from their feathers, and Vee their way into the future.
This shadow, cast twelve months ago at high noon by my father’s death, anchored both our spirits. Perhaps it is his impatience to get on with living that causes my own wings to yearn for flight. Must I let go of my grief in order for him to Vee his way into the next realm?
Go, Father, Go!! Discover the next adventure awaiting you. You have parented me well. I no longer fear drifting downstream. Remember how you loved to feed crusts of bread to the seagulls as they swooped down onto the deck of the Alcatraz ferry? The sharp beak of one drew blood from your finger – his coup your badge of courage. The price one pays for living, you seemed to say, these wounds of the flesh. Pay them no heed.
I’m waving, Dad, can you see me?
I recognized your voice today as I etched I love you into the sand on the beach of the Missouri. I heard you say “No tears, Baby” and though I cried a little, I will shake this sadness from my soul as the geese shake the river water from their feathers—one drop at a time, one day at a time, one spring after another.