Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Missing my birthday boy

My beloved was born on April 23, 1937. So Monday was a hard day.

Because every year on our birthdays we would begin the day the same way. The one who was not having a birthday would ask the other, "How shall we celebrate your birthday?"

And we would then explore increasingly elaborate ideas -- go out to dinner, go to a  movie, go to a Broadway show, book a cruise, go to Mexico, go to Italy.

But we each knew what we would end up doing -- having dinner together here at home. In the garden usually on his April birthday, in front of the fireplace on my December birthday.

His birthday dinner in the garden 2015
Because nothing, absolutely nothing, was as much fun as just the two of us together in a place we had created together, eating and drinking and talking and laughing.

Daisy wishing her daddy happy birthday in 2015
He was among the smartest people I know.

I so miss his wit, his observations on the day's happenings. He was generally kinder than I am, but then, a lot of people are. Conversations with him were always interesting, challenging, and just plain fun. He taught me so much, and stretched my world view in so many ways.  He was so widely read -- and I swear, he retained it all.

He couldn't remember to pick up the stuff I asked him to get at the grocery store, but he could remember something he'd read ten years ago in a  Nikos Kazantzakis book.

A thousand times a week I think, "I have to tell him about . . ." And then reality intrudes.

I so miss our conversations, my love. I know you are probably having a wonderful time tracking down all the writers whose work you loved, but I wish you were still here. Things are more than a little bleak without you.

You would have been 81 years old on Monday, but those numbers truly mean so little when I think of you. Your vibrant spirit, your wit, your charm -- they were ageless.

So on Monday, I set up a gofundme account, the Gayland Pool Memorial Outreach Fund to raise $10,000 to carry on the ministries you were so passionate about through the work of the congregation at St.  Luke in the Meadow Episcopal Church. We've raised nearly $3,000 of it so far.

It's helping me get from one day to the next. Because it's damn hard.

I miss you so, my love. So much.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

An empty garden

This is the time of day when I miss him most - early evening, when the day is drawing down and we both would stop whatever had kept us busy that day and turn to one another for companionship and conversation.

He would make me a drink and -- if the weather permitted and it nearly always did - we would head out into the garden. The dogs knew this routine so well they would meet us at the crossing in the walk -- are we going to sit in the pergola or in the Chapel Garden? When we would tell them which, they would tear off ahead of us, thrilled to be outside with us, knowing we would be playing with them, talking to them, laughing at them.

Daisy and Sam still look at me this time of day when I step outside -- are we going to spend time out here together, their eyes ask?

But I just can't. Sitting in the garden without him is so meaningless, so arid, so devoid of contentment that when I do sit outside I end up weeping, and the smaller dogs end up huddled around my feet, with big dog Booker putting his paws round my neck and embracing me in his distress.

I worked all day yesterday in the guesthouse garden, and when I finished, dirty and exhausted, I realized I had already turned to call him to come see how it looked, to come have a drink with me there while we enjoyed it together. But he isn't here, and the joy in the beauty of the space drained away, and it became just another job among many to finish.

I know the dogs worry about me. When I collapse in the garden weeping, they pile all over me, upset and trying to figure out what to do. I suspect if it weren't for them, I might end up curled up in a ball out there.  But they are here, and so I don't end up that way.

Instead, I walk into this oh-so-empty house, wash my hands, wipe my face, and try to figure out how to move through the next few hours until I can fall into blessed sleep, where, for a few hours in treacherous dreams, he is still with me in the garden. Because, in my dreams, we are almost always in the garden.

But the price paid for these sweet dreams is awakening every day to the knowledge of just how enormous is the space his absence occupies.

God, how I miss him.

Sunday, April 01, 2018

Cold Wind

He loved Holy Week and Easter.

Yes, these liturgically-heavy days were busy, but being the world's biggest extrovert, he drew energy from it. He especially loved the Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday services. Oh, of course he was tired in the week after, but while he was in the midst of it, he was fully present in this most dramatic week of the church calendar.

Gayland in Israel
Early in our marriage we had Holy Week and Easter in Israel. We spent Palm Sunday in Jerusalem, then most of Holy Week in the Galilee. We were back in Jerusalem to walk the Via Dolorosa on Good Friday. We went to the Easter Vigil at the ancient church of St. Anne's. And after wards we walked back across the Old City on worn stone streets bathed in the light from a full moon. We went directly to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to visit the candlelit empty tomb. It was a beautiful, powerful experience.

Gayland had essentially one Easter sermon -- through God Christ is risen and through the Holy Spirit he has moved out into the world. He was with the apostles and the women then, and he is with us now.

But Gayland is not. So, for now, the alleluias are stopped in my throat.  I have gone through the motions required of the season, and tried hard to be present. I have enjoyed the family being together, watching my nieces preparing food and filling eggs with some unexpected things (it IS April Fools Day), and watching the younger cousins and various dogs tearing around the garden. An intricate chalk design being created on the bricks of the patio took time in the early afternoon.

As we were finishing up the family Easter egg hunt, a cold wind began blowing from the north. The temperature dropped fast and little girls in pastel Easter frocks and boys in shorts and t-shirts began shivering. So the festivities were transported inside. Later, as it began to grow dark, I moved through the garden picking up cushions and putting hammocks away. The dogs accompanied me, subdued.The wind had gotten stronger and the air even colder.

It seemed more like February than April, more like mid-winter than spring, more like Ash Wednesday than Easter.