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
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.
Tend your hearts.
Posted on March 10th, 2009 by Kathryn
Filed under: People at Life