For the last month or so I kept noticing that the first two lines of Emily Dickinson’s poem “Death” were occasionally passing through my mind, like the crawl on CNN. I am very fond of Emily so I was simultaneously intrigued and curious. Last Friday evening I received a phone call that began with the words, “Are you sitting down?” One knows from experience that nothing really fabulous is going to follow that introduction, right? And so my father left the planet Earth. I was immediately filled with an immense and expanded sense of gratitude that this man had been my father. He was a writer. He had been an advertising executive. And I fell very close to that magnificent tree. Most of my posts were read to him over the phone before posting. He was a big fan. When I called him he would notice the phone ID and answer, “Is this the author, Kathryn Hall?” Very endearing as you can imagine, my dears.

This Sunday I had planned to celebrate my next birthday. I had already decided and advised old, close, dear friends that I would share my birthday with my daughter, having just returned to Northern California, as my readers know, after a ten year absence. I had planned to order our traditional Princess cake and ask the bakers to put across the top “FULL CIRCLE CELEBRATION.” We are proceeding with this celebration. But now there will be three candles, not two. And the candles will now honor three generations of writers, completing our various circles simultaneously: I for having gone around the sun one more time; Antonia for returning to her roots; and my beloved father for having finished his time on our precious planet Earth. We will be blessed to be surrounded by the dearest of women who have witnessed with us all the stages and acts life has to offer: great comings, great returnings, births, deaths, marriages, and the growing up of our children together, and not so together. The full gestalt.

I have been working nearly compulsively in my large garden almost since hearing of this passing. You can imagine. I know in my heart of hearts and give the deepest thanks that our Earth always stands beckoning us with her bounteous gifts and unconditional love and healing. She is our ultimate Mother. We sing of her blessings. Yes, we sing of her blessings. And we reap them each time we choose to turn to her. She wraps us in her Earthy arms and protects and advises and nurtures us. And we are so blessed.

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.
We slowly drove, he knew no haste,
And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then ’tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses’ heads
Were toward eternity.

–Emily Dickinson

In honor of Nelson Wesley Hall (1921-2009)

Tend your hearts.

Love and many blessings,
Kathryn xoxoox

63 Responses to “Passing”

  1. Good morning, Shirley. I am moved to tears by this comment. Thank you so very much for this reflecting. Deeply appreciated. Hugs. Kathryn xoxo

  2. Please know my heart is with yours, dear Kathryn. Fathers and daughters share a special a bond as the first man that we love, a tie that binds forever. As a child, my father gave me the gift of the moon … wondering at 4 how it followed me wherever I went, my wise father explained, “It’s because I tied a string aroung the moon and your finger ,so that wherever you go, it will always be with you.!” I will lovingly share this gift of my moon with you, dear Kathryn. Warm hugs and belated ‘Happy Birthday’ wishes.

  3. Joey, good evening. This is such a sweet comment. I feel embraced by the warmth of your heart. Thank you so much, dear. Kathryn xoxo

  4. What a beautiful expression of your feelings for your father. It is wonderful that you are able to feel a bit of joy along with the feelings of grief. We need those special times to lift us when we are feeling down. My thoughts are with you as you are manuvering through some of the harder days. I found that the first few days after my dad’s passing were easier than the days that came a week or so ater. I’m not sure why. Please know that others are thinking of you even if those thoughts are not expressed in the long days following the whirlwind of visists and sympathy.

  5. Dear Cinj–Thank you for this insight. I will keep it in mind as I traverse this new territory. I appreciate your kind thoughts. Warmly, Kathryn xoxo

  6. Dearest One – just dropped by for a mini visit and read “Passing”. You are both beautiful and courageous and what you wrote reminded me of one of my favorite lines of poetry.
    “All of the good the past hath had, remains, to make our own time glad” (Wordsworth, perhaps)
    Your sharing has blessed us and we all thank you for it.
    With tender thoughts and deep gratitude , Pat 🙂

  7. Good evening, Pat. Many many thanks for your kind thoughts and for the lovely line of poetry! I will cherish it! Kathryn xoxo

  8. Kathryn,

    What a beautiful tribute to your Dad! I know he’s beaming and surely right there with you as he will always be. All the best to you in your journey.


  9. Hi, Maureen, Welcome and thank you very much for your kind good wishes. We will take to heart. Love, Kathryn xoxo

  10. Dear Kathryn, I’m so sorry for the loss of your father. What a grand, new adventure he must be having now.

  11. Hi, Linda, this comment really brought a smile to my face. Yes, Dad, is having a very grand adventure now and meanwhile keeping his eye on all of us still working out our planet Earth lives. What a guy! Kathryn xoxo

  12. My Grandmother passed away in August, and my Grandma in January. I’m helping to take care of Grandpa, the only one left of that generation. Life is so busy, and I’ve found a lot of my mourning has happened as I am potting, planing, thinking, and planning my garden. The cyclical thoughts of life find space there, it seems.

    I just found your blog today and am enjoying it. Seeing as how I am by the rockies our weather is a little more tenuous at the moment, but it should break one more freak frost and we should be good to go~!

    My maiden name was Hall, too. Maybe we are distant cousins 🙂 (Thomas Hall came from England in the mid 1800’s.) Smiles.

  13. Good morning, Red Clover, I’m sorry for you to have lost two grandmothers in such a short span of time, particularly. A wave of sadness. Yes, the garden is enormously restorative and allows healing time for sure. I agree. I’m glad you are enjoying the blog. My Halls came mid-1600’s. Good you know your family history! Kathryn xoox

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