a band of angels swam at me..."
-Radiohead, Pyramid Song (off Amnesiac)
I am grateful for glasses of water, half full or half empty. It's winter coming on now, despite the 50 something degree weather, and nights at either D's or my place are dry, hot and hard on the lungs and skin. I have just gotten through a few days of massive coffee consumption (it's not much, by most standards, but large for me) and last night I suffered from serious acid in guts from drinking it mid-day (ah, recovering from Thanksgiving meals!). Over the last couple of days, D and I have figured out that we have to slow down a bit - spend some nights apart (or at least one!) go to bed at 5:30pm to allow time for all the chatting and cuddling we seem to need to do before we can snuggle up and sleep. Practicality kicks in, suddenly, luckily - mutually.
So I am home today, cleaning my office, working on my poetry manuscript, my novel. I have developed a fair amount of new material on the novel over the last 24 hours, mostly thanks to a trip to "see my family" on Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving night, after being at Erika's sister's joint in Zion, Illinois, D, Erika and I stopped at Hickory Point, the name for our family's cabin (acquired 11/7/47) in Lake Geneva WI. I haven't been there in a couple of years now, but our parents are buried there, and we were very, very close on the drive and it just felt like the right thing to do. We didn't even have a flashlight, and although the mostly-new moon gave off some ambient light, we were all grateful for D's cell phone, which sports a very bright and useful flashlight on its tip. Because my brother Alex was going to be doing the same thing over the weekend (visiting their graves) I called him to let him know we were there, spontaneously. He called back not 5 minutes later to tell me he was 5 miles away, and almost to us.
In the dark, we uncovered my family - the generations before:
Alberta McClurkin Hall (paternal grandmother)
Betty and Glenn Reilly (maternal grandparents)
Chuck Riley (maternal great uncle)(family story is that grandparents had to be given up as kids to different families because of a freak lightning storm killing their parents - somehow they all kept Reilly, but it got spelled different ways?! Ah, family fables...)
Miriam Knaupf ("Big Mimi" - my namesake, maternal great aunt)
Tricia and Michael Hall (mom and dad)
I cried once, a single, sharp cry that I referred to in a later writing as being how sadness really is, "so quick, a bandaid pulled off a wound, healing more quickly than one would think. Like air is the only antibiotic that sadness needs." It felt clean, and it felt like the right thing to do on Thanksgiving.
I joked with D. that meeting dead parents is easier than live ones, since there's less to worry about with impressions. Alex and I stood there, unafraid of all the death we've seen, and waited until the air got too cold and our hearts were warmed enough by our own courage to go home.
Here's to enough water to keep us all hydrated, whether in the form of tears or sweat or glasses half-empty or full. Frankly, we are not in the ground yet, badly laid concrete or half-frozen earth. Today, typing, that's enough gratitude for me. And then, to Erika and D., gratitude that they found meeting my dead relatives as non-intimidating as D and I found meeting Erika's living ones.