Tuesday, 15 September 2015
It is early—just past daybreak. Hummingbirds are already dinning at the feeder hanging from the gazebo. I love the thrumming sound of their wings. A slight rain is falling. It is a prayer answered in drought stricken California. I hope it continues. Rain in this area is a precious balancing act. Too little, we burn ourselves alive. Too much, houses on the jagged ridgelines above Malibu slide toward the Pacific Ocean. Huge wild fires are wrecking towns and acreage to the north. One death has occurred. My next-door neighbor is a fire fighter. I have not seen him for days. He is a hero in my mind, putting his life on the line to save people and property. He is one part of the thoughts that scramble through my noggin this morning as I sit composing this letter.
I am seventy-two years old. Death for me is no longer an abstraction. It is a very real thing. What has become important to me is to die well. To die without grasping or clutching at a life that has given me far more than I deserve. To make it easy for those I am leaving behind. I have visualized death many times. Watched from above as my corpse decays back to the star dust from whence it came and returns my no longer needed atoms and molecules back to the illusion we call universe. I know that sounds morbid to many, but that is not so for me. I draw comfort from the understanding. It takes away the fear of nothing.
Life was gifted me by an unmarried eighteen-year-old girl. I lived my early life as an illegitimate. I wonder now how any child born to this world can be considered so. But that is something, perhaps, to consider in a future letter. I scattered her ashes many years ago and remember thinking her death meant I was next in line. Since there was nobody to follow me it mattered not. But things have changed. I have since had three marriages that created a very successful forty-seven year old daughter who rightfully despises me and a brilliant twenty-six year old son who does not. I am also the proud papa of a beautiful sixteen-year-old adoptive daughter, and am married to an intelligent woman who loves me in ways I never thought possible. My life, with a few exceptions, has turned out to be very sweet. I do not know how I earned what I have. There are people in this world who will tell you I deserve far less. For the most part, they are right. I have made apologies where possible. Seems that is all one can do in such matters. There is a little peace to be had from it. Some doors, I know, will always be closed. Life cannot be perfectly done.
My mind drifts, distracted as thrumming sounds fill the air. I seem to have run out of words. I look up to watch as a hummingbird does its inflight refueling. It finishes, turns, gives me a suspicious look, then darts away. Were I it, I would do the same. I sigh. The rain has stopped, but its delicious smell still hovers in the air. I pick up the heavy mug sitting beside me and take the last bitter swig of long-cold coffee. Sleepy-eyed Samantha comes from her bedroom to kiss my cheek. I remember Sweet Grecy will be back Saturday. I smile, then hold back tears.
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