Of loss and beauty

As we grow older, we lose more, but the losses or the goodbyes don’t get any easier. At first I believed these highs and lows of life I’ve been experiencing were something recent, and then I thought, isn’t that just what life is? A series of gains and losses. Some joyful. Some sad. Changing. Saying goodbye.

And I looked back over my last few weeks and months of posts and realized, in some of them, I saw my snark. I don’t know if anyone else could see it but I could. A bit of the old anger and impatience with life not going the way I want to order it. My snark likes to complain about that. It wasn’t much, but it was there.

Last weekend a woman I used to work with died in small plane crash with her husband. It was two days after her retirement party. I hadn’t know her well, but the few times I did spend with her are memorable. Years ago, when I moved here the first time I took my teenaged son and his friend to a weekend trip where we would see two Shakespeare plays, a comedy and a tragedy. Kathy Rhymes had organized a tour and along with me and the two boys was a bus full of women over 40. The boys were not shy and loved to mouth off which Kathy handled with the most humor and grace I had ever seen.

I moved away and ten years later returned and began teaching at the local community college. While I met people quickly, she was the only one I remembered from before. A few weeks after I started working there she and her husband, Bruce, invited me up on a plane ride. It was spectacular. Below the land lay out in strange patterns only nature can make. Those mountains that had always seemed so huge and imposing and lakes that were almost impossible to see across looked like a monopoly set below. We flew to another mountain town burrowed into the pine hills, ate breakfast and flew home.

Last night I went to their memorial. It was held at the small airport where they kept their plane. The hanger was packed. They had to open the metal doors and bring in benches for people to sit on. The love Kathy and Bruce Rhymes had spread during their lives was nearly visible like an aura that hung over the room. I’m not sure I’ve ever experienced anything like that. They were two of the most alive people I have ever met.

Really there are no words, but the old cliches to live each day as if it’s our last.

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4 thoughts on “Of loss and beauty

  1. Thanks for this tribute, Jordan. I didn’t know Bruce, but I will always think of Kathy as that courageous person who overcame a life-threatening illness and came back to teaching. She was amazing, and she will be missed. I know they both will be missed.

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