Her Widow, 2nd excerpt

 

 

 

 

Great chunks of snow fall with a thud from the trees and roof. 

Dear Catherine, 

I’ve talked too much today. The story is losing its pull on me. I say the words but don’t feel anything. Yesterday, at least, I was real in my pain. Tonight, I feel false. 

It will be days before everyone is told, before the story is old, and only I am here with the full weight of it. 

I called your Aunt Agnes in Ireland, and for a moment, lifted by the lilt in her voice, my heart sang. 

Homer came by to fix the toilet.

By noon, a turkey had arrived that is now in the fridge, keeping company with a casserole and a cake from church.

Tomorrow, Clyde will be here to sweep the snow from the roof. 

 

The bright sun streaking in the bedroom window lights a nearly square patch on the floorboards. 

Dear Catherine, 

This morning in my dream you came to me and combed your fingers through my hair. I woke, remembering your promise to do this as a sign to me that you had survived death. 

I got out of bed and stepped to the window to look out. Snow had stopped falling and everything was still. The sun glinted off the frozen world beyond, making a showy splendor of the ordinary. Branches were bent down, heavy with snow. The wind had blown drifts down the road and made peaks out of chimneys. It was a picture you would have raced down the stairs and out the door to take. 

 

Plows have been pushing snow down the roads all day and are still at work tonight on Main Street. 

Dear Catherine, 

Everyone is in bed except Marc and me. Marc sits in the kitchen, reading the Unobstructed Universe that I lent him, while I wander aimlessly in and out of rooms. Everywhere I set my foot or direct my eye is strange and cold. 

I’ve received no calls or cards from my family. I have only my nephew Marc, but he is everything. Quiet and respectful, he washes dishes, brings me plates of food I can’t eat, shuts off the lights, and locks the doors.

Last August when I stood beside you in the surgical office and watched the surgeon insert the tube into your stomach, we understood it was not to feed you. It was to remove the food you ate and prevent any from lodging where your bowel was obstructed, to prevent your bowel from turning gangrenous. You would not die quickly or easily from the tumor in your brain stem. You would starve to death. We lived with that awareness. How do I live with the awareness that I will never see you again? 

Battered by a storm that has taken you away from me, I feel certain I will never see a sunny day again. I struggle to keep my head above water as all around me goes under, afraid I will soon drown and at the same time, wishing I would. 

I’m sorry I didn’t follow you in death.
I lie on the couch all day and sometimes all night. I feed the dogs. That is what I do.                                                        

 

The New York airports are closed. 

Dear Catherine, 

The snowstorm has raged on and made it difficult for some and impossible for others to get here today, but the church was packed nonetheless. Every pew was taken. Some friends of yours stood and spoke about you. Pat described the evening you drove her home and hit the car brakes suddenly in an intersection, and jumped out of the car to rescue a spring peeper you’d caught in your headlights. 

When Pat sat down, Linda stood to tell us at sixteen years old, you climbed out your bedroom window late one night and rolled the family car down the drive. You were not sneaking out to meet someone but going to the Sound to park at the water’s edge and listen to the surf. 

What made you more enchanting, Catherine, your gentleness or your nerve? And how were you able to cheerfully accept people as they were, never asking more from anyone then she could give? 

Steve ended the service saying it was not only the love you brought to the church or the love I brought, but our love for each other that changed the hearts and minds of so many. 

Your brother never showed though he’d told me he would. I was relieved in the same way I was relieved not to hear from my family. How would they have comforted me? 

My family’s three letters, written just after you got sick and all arriving on the same day like a school assignment, seemed calculated. Mom’s letter addressed to you, my brother’s letter to me, and my sister’s letter to the two of us. I can guess who gave that assignment. 

I remember only the sarcastic remark in Mom’s letter to you in which she said I must be distraught because I had made you my all and everything. 

Of course, it wouldn’t have occurred to her that I did so because my family had turned away from me, never shared family news with me, never invited me to visit when others would be present, never asked about my life. 

Twenty-five years earlier, well before you came into my life, our family battle began. I was summoned to England to explain the letter I had written to Mom and Dad saying I was in love with a woman, Allyson. My sister advised me to write a letter rather than call. 

“Give Mom and Dad time to adjust to the shock of it,” she’d said. 

I was in England a week. Mom and Dad waited until the last hour on the last day of my visit to grill me. It was an awkward conversation made worse by Mom’s decision that we have our talk in the parlor where the sterling tea set was front and center, obscuring our view of one another. We sat in a circle around it, in tall wing-back chairs set too far apart for intimate conversation. Mom didn’t speak at all, although from the sound of it, Dad’s question was hers.“ 

“Joan, just exactly what is your relationship to Allyson? Are you friends, like sisters, or mother and daughter?” 

I answered, “We are all that but we got together because of our romantic attraction to each other.” And, because I was irritated by the delay that kept me on edge for seven days, as well as the formal setting, and that first question, a cowardly way to ask if Allyson and I were sexually intimate, I said, “You know Dad, it doesn’t take a penis to have an orgasm.” 

To his credit, Dad didn’t flinch, but Mom pushed back in her chair. Dad, in a cheerful voice, said, “I’m glad to know you have a sex life. I would hate to think any of my children missed out on that. I won’t ask you anything more.” 

I thought he meant he wouldn’t ask me anything more about my sex life, but he evidently meant nothing more period. Neither Dad nor Mom ever again asked me anything about my personal life. My sister and brother followed suit. They were either afraid I would share something that would make them uncomfortable, or they were simply not interested. 

Mom and Dad considered themselves worldly, but I saw the muscles tighten in their faces and heard the uneasiness in their voices whenever Allyson and I were present. Our sexual orientation unnerved them. Their message was that I was no longer one of them. And Allyson, and later you, Catherine, would not be invited to events where there was a chance someone outside my immediate family would be present. We were excluded from all weddings and christenings, even my grandparents’ funerals. 

In each instance, I received a phone call from my sister or brother, saying I was welcome only if I arrived alone and kept quiet about my personal life. I went to Grandpa Baldwin’s funeral but none of the others because going alone to that first funeral felt like a betrayal of Allyson, of me, and of us jointly. 

 

HER WIDOW

 

       

                       

 

As promised, an excerpt from my memoire every Monday

 

 

 

                H       E      R               W      I      D      O      W  

                              J   o   a   n       A   l   d   e   n

 

 

 

January 1996

Last night’s snow and wind buried cars on the street and stilled the world outside my window. 

Dear Catherine, 

I woke this morning wishing that I, too, had been buried by the wind and snow last night. I heard footsteps on the stairs–your sister-in-law or your niece. Not you. Never again you. 

An oil truck on the street below revved its motor, struggling to make the turn, heading toward The Point. And then silence once again, and with the silence, emptiness. 

I lay still in bed, not even stretching out my legs between the cool sheets, staring at the red wall where it meets the white trim of the window that was frosted this morning. 

A bug crawled along the sill. A rare visitor, this bug in winter. I might have watched the tiny creature longer if I hadn’t heard Cleo yelp and Caleb bark. 

My bare feet touched the cold floor and I hurried to the bathroom to pee before I went downstairs to feed the dogs. 

Lying in bed with you days before, I said, “I don’t know how I will go on without you.” That was the first time I had said those words aloud, but they had been on my mind for three years, from the day I was led to a small room down the hall from the OR. 

The surgeon had promised me that once he’d opened your abdomen and saw what was there, he would come out to the hall where I stood waiting and tell me. Instead, he sent the anesthetist who led me to a small windowless room. I knew, as I walked beside him down the hospital hallway, that good news didn’t require the privacy of a room. 

The door was opened for me and I stepped in. Two metal chairs and nothing more had been given to the space, nothing on the white walls but black marks waist high, scars from the chairs rubbing against the wall. There wasn’t room for a desk or a small table with a lamp. There was a ceiling light with dead bugs silhouetted in its globe. What does the staff call this room? I wondered. Surely there is a code for it. There are codes for everything in a hospital: ER, OR, ICU. Maybe it is called the BNR for the Bad News Room. 

“The cancer is spread across every organ in her abdomen,” the anesthetist said without taking a seat. And that was it. Not even, I’m sorry. He had to rush back to OR. I was left in the BNR to break down, but I didn’t. In emergencies I keep my emotions in check long enough to do what is necessary. Later, when I was at home, I cried. 

In the three years that followed we cried often. Alone. Together. With friends. I was crying when I lay beside you in bed a week ago, imagining my first hour without you, the days that would follow that and the weeks and months and years. I was 51 years old. I might live forty more years without you. Thirty was certainly a possibility. 

You said something I thought strange. You asked me, “Why do you write?” 

I was hurt by your changing the subject. I didn’t want to talk about writing. I wanted you to comfort me. 

“I don’t want to talk about that,” I said. 

Today, I understand the importance of the question and my answer, which you knew. 

I write to feel connected to something, to be in the good company of my imaginary friends and someone or something I can’t name or explain that whispers a word to me now and again or shows me an image. Whatever or whoever is guiding me at those times is also good company. 

I write when I don’t know what else to do, when I’m unable to read, watch television, or listen to music. When I can’t fall asleep. Writing is the one thing I can do when I can do nothing else. 

I’m writing to you tonight because I miss your company, Catherine, and because this is what we did at the end of our days: we talked about the day’s events, our pressing concerns, our hopes for tomorrow, our plans for the house or the garden or the next holiday. We talked about who we were and what we worried was lacking in each of us. 

If you were sitting across from me now I would tell you what happened after you took your last breath. 

Just past midnight your breathing changed. It became loud and raspy and you labored like that for hours. The sound disturbed me and I wanted to put my hands over my ears, but I promised you I would be your witness. 

Your last breath wasn’t a breath at all. You opened your mouth like a fish underwater, but your lungs didn’t inflate, your chest didn’t rise. 

I looked at the clock and called Hospice. A nurse arrived who had not been to see you before. I noticed a Celtic cross hanging from a chain around her neck, and at once it hit me. It wasn’t a quarter to five when you died. It was 4: 44. 

The week before, we were sitting up in bed. You had just woken from a nap and you were tapping your two index fingers against each other and saying, “Four by four 

by four.” I was puzzled by the words and the gesture, and I said so, but you kept at it, tap, tap, tapping and repeating, “Four by four by four.” 

You said that you had a head full of images from your dreams that you were desperate to share with me, but you couldn’t find the words. 

I asked, “Is that a cross you’re making with your fingers?” and you nodded. You knew that I didn’t share The Church’s view that Jesus died for our sins. I believed Jesus’ crucifixion was meant to comfort us when we suffer from misunderstandings, judgments, torture, and death, that his dying on the cross is a message to those who suffer: You are in good company. 

After my call to Hospice, I got out of bed beside you, filled a basin with warm water, and brought it to the bed. One of your eyes was open and the other closed, and I flinched and spilled some water. I felt ashamed that I was frightened by you. I wanted to honor you by making my last act of kindness perfect. 

Minutes later, putting a fresh pair of pajamas on you, I felt as I had always felt about your dear body that was delicate yet strong. You were beautiful even in your frail state, and I was drawn to you as a small green shoot is drawn to the sun. 

When I combed your hair and clipped your nails, I felt no separation. We were one; death was an illusion. And yet each act of caring for your body seemed to move you farther from me, like a balloon that once released floats higher and higher till it is only a speck in the sky and then can’t be seen, and I wanted to return to the moment before. 

In the small chapel at the cemetery, I stood looking at you for the last time. Your body and mine were in a shaft of light that shined through the stained-glass window above us. A quiet man stepped close, gestured it was time, and wheeled your body away to be cremated. I asked if I could wait and he shook his head and said it would be many hours. 

At home, I was surrounded by friends, but I felt disconnected from everyone and everything. I went up to the bedroom and found dirty puddles on the floorboards that were left by the men who had come for your body and carried snow in on their heavy rubber boots. I got the mop from the kitchen closet to clean the floor, but as I pushed the mop my heart broke open and I wailed. 

Nan heard me and came running. She helped me into bed and brought the dogs to me. I fell asleep. 

When I woke it was dark out and I was frightened. I hurried downstairs, looking for company, and sat in the living room with Nan and Joy and Jacqueline, and I felt sick to my stomach. They were chattering and their words made no sense to me, but their voices were better than the silence upstairs. 

I’m Back

Image

Where have I been since November, six months ago?  The painting above in part is the answer. When I sent my manuscript, Her Widow, off to Dog Ear Publishing, I took off my writer’s cap and put on my painter’s hat.

The painting above is a commissioned piece, oil on canvas, 4 feet by 4 feet, that I did for the apartment building where I live.  I hope to be commissioned to do a painting for each hall in the building.

I have just returned the corrected galley of Her Widow to the publisher so it won’t be too long before the book is available.

I will soon be seeking prepublication reviews and begin promoting the book, the business side of the writing life that is harder for me than the writing, but once the book is available, I will seek some readings which I enjoy.

In the meantime I will be providing excerpts from Her Widow on this blog once a week.

If you have anything you want to say about the story please feel free to send a  note to me at Jaden444@gmail.com.

I am happy to be back in touch with you. After long periods of solitude writing, it is important and a joy for me to meet readers.  I will send the first excerpt Monday.

Thank you for your interest.  Joan

Small Pieces

Unable or unwilling to start another novel or memoir, I have been writing small pieces prompted by a word.

EMPTY

I’m feeling empty as

the pumpkin my brother carved for Halloween, sitting on the step, sunken cheeks and smelly,

empty as the smile my sister wore standing back against the wall in the gym watching the others dance,

empty as the purse I carried because mama dressed me up for her boyfriend who was coming on the train,

empty as the glass resting on the bar that the bartender refuses to fill.  Says Dad’s had enough but he’ll buy some at the ABC on his way home,

empty as the checkbook Mom threw at Dad,

empty as the shoes in my brother’s closet because he was DOA, dead on arrival.

empty as the words the minister spoke at my sister’s service because he didn’t know her.  She never went to church but Mom insisted on a church service,

empty as my mother’s stare as she sat on the floor because she forgot what chairs were for.

A Look in the Mirror

 

 

Many years ago, backstage at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco, I was reading John Steinbeck’s Life in Letters and I came upon a letter written by a young writer, asking Steinbeck how he felt about writers using their friends and family members as characters in stories, outing family members as the human beings they are or worse exaggerating their flaws.  Steinbeck’s immediate response was to feel badly for the families of writers or artists of any kind and he confessed that writers were thieves who stole gestures and words from others. Then, he explained that family and friends are the writer’s material, raw material, from which stories of humanity are told.  And yes, the family and friends pay a heavy price for being so.

I have recently used a family member’s behavior to tell a story.  In my last blog I spoke of my sister failing to bring my walker to me in the hospital. I confess that I was so completely selfish at the time that I did not even consider what she might think, reading what I wrote and knowing others would.  And when she confronted me, I was surprised by her reaction, proof of my gross insensitivity.

I, who thought I was making an important point, didn’t consider who I was using to make that point and did serious damage to my relationship with my sister.  I am the comedian on stage who busts her sibling for the sake of the joke.  I can’t defend my behavior and it’s too late to take back my words.  The best I can do is come clean and accept the consequences.

I’m back

 

 

Wow, it has been forever since I wrote in my blog.

I am sitting in room 581 of Sarasota Memorial Hospital, waiting for my neurosurgeon to arrive and discharge me to Rehab for the next week.

That explains in part where I have been, suffering from sciatica that turned out to be a herniated disc that didn’t resolve after two surgeries, and worsened until I needed a spinal fusion.

After the upsetting election I considered writing down my thoughts and feelings.  I passed on that in favor of being one person who did not feel her reaction to the election was important for others to know.  I did do something that was important to me.

I let some folks who were supporters of Trump know that I wanted off their invite list.  I decided that I need not be mean or argumentative or a crybaby, but I did need my friends to know my criteria for friendship included respect for women and disabled people and old people and poor people and foreigners and gays and lesbians and dark skinned people and anyone who isn’t a fan of Mr. Trump.

And I went on the women’s march in January.

It was a boon to my head and heart but I paid a bodily price.

Compromised already by MS, I pushed myself a bit too far to make the walk and I  did injury to a degenerated vertebrae.

So here I am.  Today out of the pain killers deep fog and off to rehab.  I had an interesting exchange yesterday and today which I think is worth telling because it is funny in a way.

I called my sister yesterday to ask her to stop by my apartment and pick up my walker which I was going to need, already needed.  She asked what else I might want and I mentioned a few things:  a change of clothes and perhaps apples out of my refrigerator.  The apples I’m getting in the hospital are mushy.

She said she would do that and hours later wrote that she wanted to know the pass code for my garage entrance so she didn’t have to walk with my things.  It seemed a strange worry since there are elevators she could take to and from my apartment, so I called her and sensing she was less than enthusiastic about the errand I had given her, I told her it would be fine to let it go. The items weren’t a necessity.

Today I called a friend in my apartment building who I had done a favor for, and I asked her if she would bring my walker to my hospital room.  She assured me she would.

Hours passed and unexpectedly my sister arrived with a bag for me.  Not the walker.  Clothes and a few items from my refrigerator.  The thing I most needed was not forgotten or overlooked by accident.  My sister decided it was not as important and the clothes she could easily carry.

To my sister what she wore the week in rehab would be more important than how she got around.  After an accident that nearly killed her and with a titanium rod down one leg at 75 she still walks in high heels.  She brought me what she would want, not what I asked for.

I called my friend to catch her before she left the apartment to tell her to forget the clothing items I had asked for.  I only needed the walker.  My friend said she had been at the computer filling out a questionnaire that she had hours more to respond to and she didn’t know how to save it.  I jumped in saying  she should wait until that was done before running the errand for me.  “Oh, come when you finish,” I uttered.

Lesson:

Expect people to give me what they would want in my circumstances, not what I ask for.

Question:

Where is the one person who will get me my walker before the sun sets?

On the bright side:

I can stop worrying that my life is worthless, that I don’t serve any important purpose, writing stories.  I am that one person in all my relationships who would drop everything and hop to.

My doctor has just arrived and I am off to rehab to learn  how to walk and sit and carry things with a fused back.  No more climbing ladders or moving myself from one residence to another or walking without a walker.

But hours later, Rehab didn’t have a bed, so I am staying on the neurosurgery ward another night.

At 9 pm I hear a wee voice, female, calling out, “Help, help, help!”  I hit my buzzer and tell the nursing station what I am hearing and next I hear footsteps in the hall and then a nurse say something that I can’t make out  but the “help, help, help” stops.

Earlier I was walking the hall and saw a man in bed with his left hand covered in thick white foam rubber to protect it.  He couldn’t stop beating his hand against the bed and wall and everything within reach.

“Dear God,” I prayed.  “Let me know before something like this happens to me.  Give me a warning that I will know is from you.”

Maybe these poor souls are so lost they don’t know they are lost but their affect looks like they know.  They look terribly disturbed.  And the loved one who sits by them knows they are lost and lost to them.  And it is tragic.  There are all kinds of tragedies.  This is one I hope to avoid.

I Can’t Sleep

 

 

 

Alchemy show 019

When I close my eyes I see the caisson carrying John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  I see his brother Bobby lying in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor.  I see Martin Luther King crumble on the balcony.  When I close my eyes I see another Black man shot in the back.  I see the twin towers come down.  I see the dead bodies on the fields in Viet Nam.  I see the maimed come home from Iraq and Afghanistan.  When I close my eyes I see the homeless family huddled over the grate for warmth.  I see the twelve-year-old girl sitting alone on a bench, waiting to have someone take the baby out of her that her daddy put there.  When I close my eyes I see the woman in the wheelchair being harrassed by a group of bored teenage boys.  I see the President-elect mimicking the disabled reporter.  When I close my eyes I see a lovely woman walking down a street in front of a construction sight where  men had paused from their work to whistle and call out what they would like to do her, and I hear our President-elect brag that women let him grab their pussies.  When I cose my eyes I see the child’s father carry bottled water up the stairs to his Flint home for his family but it’s too late for his child.  When I close my eyes I see people stranded on their roof tops in New Orleans and a body floating face down in flood water.  When I close my eyes I see the angry face of the President-elect.  I see his crowd raise their fists in the air shouting, “Lock her up!”  I see the the President-elect receiving too warm a welcome from the President.  When I close my eyes I see the caisson carrying John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Weeks away the President-elect becomes President and the towers fall and the dead bodies come home and the family huddles at the grate for warmth and the caisson rolls down Pennsylvania Avenue.

In sorrow and fear

 

Alchemy show 029

I, like half the country, woke yesterday feeling deep sorrow, feeling as I did the day John Kennedy was assassinated.  Frightened by the intensity of my sorrow, I reached for my bottle of xanax, a drug I take when needed to control one of the effects of MS: an exaggerated response to sound, movement, and stress.

And then I picked up the play I am working on and got to work. In my worst times, sick with MS and sick with the loss of my life partner, the only thing that steadied me was writng, letting loose my grip on myself to join the world and characters of a story I was writing, exchanging ego consciousness for character consciousness.  But I was editing the play inside the house and although the TV screen was dark, it had brought me the bad news.  I picked up my laptop and went outside to write.  At the same time, yesterday I was doing laundry and from time to time I had to go back in the house to transfer clothes from the washer to the drier.  The inside was not sunny like the outside,  not warm.  I stepped into shadows and the coolness of airconditioning and the sadness returned.  I worked quickly in the laundry room and ran out to the sun’s warmth and the heat rising from the deck around the small pool.

Today I woke well before dawn from a pleasant dream into a frightening reality.  Today I am thinking less about Hillary and more about Trump and I am scared.  I traded deep sadness for high anxiety.  Words and phrases flashed, like emergency lights on the road where a terrible car accident has occurred and in an instant changes the life of someone forever.  Today, again I took a xanax pill and have written emails to friends and am now here, sending words out into the ethers to anyone who might find friendship with what I say.

Why have I continued to write all these years when five books have had only modest success, not earning enough to support me?  It is because writing takes me out of time and myself to a world and people I have created from my imagination where some of us find peace of mind.  It is for me the quiet place where whispering voices or shouts of joy from others catch my attention and for a while I forget myself, my sorrows and my fears.

Perspective

 

c-lying-with-c

 

I have been painting again.  In the painting the subject’s hand in the foreground is large and her hand in the background is small.  This is a clue to the perspective of the painter.  She is low and close to her subject.

The very large hand reminds me of something Stella Adler used to impress upon us, her drama students, that in order to tell a story in two hours the characters on stage must be larger than life. Stella was not instructing us to exaggerate, to make the hand larger as in the painting.  She was challenging us to reveal more, to be naked on the stage, and give “it” all away, saving nothing for the self.  By “it” she meant the gift the actor presents to the audience through character.  It could be said that an actor releases a character to the audience completely, holding back nothing.  It can’t be done playing it safe.

The same must be done in writing.  The writer must draw her characters larger than life, holding back nothing.  In life too often our presentation is small.  We tend to be stingy, protecting ourselves from being known truly, completely.  This doesn’t work in a book or on stage.  The audience and readers don’t have a lifetime to get to know the characters.  In life we can slowly, very gradually reveal ourselves.  In art we run out of time or space, doing that.

Stella’s acting lessons were my writing lessons.  At the time that I was learning how to create character I had no idea I would one day apply those lessons to stories I would write.

Yesterday I completed a second revision of my play, After the Dance.  I will return to it in another day or two to see what is there and what is not and look to see if it is big enough, important.  It is not enough to tell a story that is engaging.  It must also be important.  It must say something that needs to be said, that increases awareness or understanding, and challenges the reader.  At the same time my story needs to show a character and circumstances that are unique, it must tell a universal truth.  And it must tell it in a new way.  That is art.

Time on my hands

Lil Me in the poolA few weeks back the pool thermometer broke and I found a replacement at the pool store that had a green rubber frog attached to the top.  The frog floated above the surface of the water as the thermometer circled the pool on the current created by the jets of water.
I watched the frog swing around the pool over and over again while I floated on my raft in the middle of the pool. During the day when I passed the French door to the poolI I looked out to see where the frog was and when I couldn’t find it I ran out to discover it in the far corner of the pool almost invisible in the shadow of the wall.  Gradually the frog and I became friends and It was time to give froggy a name.  I marveled at the frog’s sweet expression, nearly a smile, that remained constant despite a fate to travel the same water over and over again and almost always alone.  I developed a softness for the frog and on her next pass, I stopped her progress to look closely at the spots on her back and her chubby legs and round belly, and I was tickled, especially by her attitude, and I named her Lil Me.  She is a bit like me or I might be a bit like her when I am my best.  At any rate I identified with Lil Me and for a moment we were one and I had the purest feeling that I’ve had once or twice before, that I am one with everything in the world.  A moment when I can feel the heart beat of everything and we are singing the same song.  Those are the happiest moments of my life.
It is raining now, but an hour ago I was in the shallow pool standing on the bottom, my head well above the water and the sun pouring down on me and Lil Me.  I looked down through the water to the black bottom and saw a silhouette of my body.  I wiggled my arms and legs and made shadow figures like we did many decades ago to amuse ourselves.
I’ve been in that pool at least 600 times and never before saw the shadow figure of me.  And I couldn’t help but wonder what if all we are seeing on this physical plane is like the shadow figure and when we pass into the spirit world we see things in technicolor and three dimensions, not black and white and two dimensional.  It is a thought that flew from the bamboo tree overhead down to my shoulder and knocked on my skull.  It came to me because I don’t have a husband or wife or children or an in-law to take care of or a job or land to farm.  I have time on my hands to observe what is always present but I don’t always see and find meaning in the image and an application to my life.