walter turned three years old yesterday, and i'm reminded again of how quickly the days and the weeks and months and years pass us by. it was on walter's second birthday last year when i said my final goodbyes to beloved daddy, chin and voice trembling as i fought back the tears, and his last words to me as he looked me straight in the eye were for me not to worry, i would be fine, and that he loved me so much, so very very much. somehow i managed to walk out of that room and drive the six hours back to firefly road, to a house that had once again been burgled and left wide open to the rest of the world. i picked up those pieces, packed my bags all over again, and headed across the state to wilmington a few days later for roy's college graduation. daddy died the next day, and after the graduation ceremony i spent another twelve hours driving an unending stretch of interstate to get myself back down to alabama. a lot followed after that - my scramble in vain to meet workshop proposal deadlines two weeks later, a trip across the world to reunite with treasured friends for a workshop in beloved australia (one of these days i'll share those stories and images with you), a week in new zealand with more close friends-turned-family, then a final settling down back home as summer drifted by. yesterday's celebration with walter seemed to be another rite of passage, another way to mark may 6. thank goodness for that - for the rituals of life, of death, and everything in between. we went to the river yesterday, walter and i, and his birthday treat was a rollicking swim and stick toss in the waters of the beloved oconaluftee.
the cherokee believed that "going to waters" brought great healing and spiritual cleansing; it is enough for me to stand at the edge of that beautiful river while walter plays, and listen to its voice as it rushes past on its way to the sea.* i stand at the water and listen to the rushing, i listen to birdsong, i listen to the breezes in the newly green branches of overhanging trees. water. how often it moves my heart, my spirit, my soul.
you'll probably remember the bits of smooth pebbles and broken, weathered shells that i pocketed while walking at the beach a couple of weeks ago; i walked along that water's edge, barefoot in the sand, and remembered the last time that i'd let those waters wash over my feet, a year ago. when i came home, remember? i discovered that one of the shell shards was a worn angel's wing, something i'd not seen until i dropped the pieces into a pottery bowl. seldom do i take the time to make a piece of jewelry for myself, but for this i've fashioned a string of oddly shaped pearls with the wing as its focal piece. the wing comes off, if i wish, but i love that it will now hang with pearls from a knob where i can see it every day - an incredible talisman, an incredible gift that quietly presented itself, from the sea. it came from the waters, where memory washed its healing balms over me. xo
*for an eloquent passage concerning going to waters, go here for a sample reading from Thirteen Moons, a very powerful novel i just finished for the second time.