Family tragedy notwithstanding, I read something today that strikes me as pertinent. Relative to oil spills, habitat destruction, pollution, everything. And while we—we the family—mourn the loss of a loved one, I find I would be remiss in not sharing this representation of my spirit.
I want to tell you that the world is still beautiful. I tell you that despite children raped on city streets, shot down in school rooms, despite the slow poisons seeping from old and hidden sins into our air, soil, water, despite the thinning film that encloses our aching world. Despite my own terror and despair.
I want you to know that spring is no small thing, that the tender grasses curling like a baby’s fine hairs around your fingers are a recurring miracle. I want to tell you that the river rocks shine like God, that the crisp voices of the orange and gold October leaves are laughing at death.
I want to remind you to look beneath the grass, to note the fragile hieroglyphs of ant, snail, beetle. I want you to understand that you are no more and no less necessary than the brown recluse, the ruby-throated hummingbird, the humpback whale, the profligate mimosa.
I want to say, like Neruda, that I am waiting for “a great and common tenderness”, that I still believe we are capable of attention, that anyone who notices the world must want to save it.
— Rebecca Baggett, “Testimony” from Women’s Uncommon Prayers
[as for a writ on my aunt Cathy’s death—or more succinctly, on death as a whole—that’s in the works; it behooves me to admit that I’ve dwelt on death much of late as a response to the loss of many family members over these past few years, but most notably because I’ve only recently understood that Derek’s death in 2004 changed me in ways I never imagined; death indeed is a dignitary]