I woke this morning at 6:35 a.m. despite the fact that no duty called me. It cannot be helped; my restless heart knows its milestones and this is one. Sleep would not return. I watched the hazy morning light gently rise outside my windows.
The fire did not come close enough to the town where I work or the island on which I live to pose a threat. But now we breathe the lingering ashes. Dust collects on our cars. We sigh and think, there, but for the grace of God, go I.
In my house, I use a small, manageable flame to boil water for my coffee. In the open front doorway, I study the sway of the branches. The Delta winds rule our lives. They shift and the fire turns west and we are spared. They dance and drive the smoke to our meadow. The latest fire consumed hundreds of houses northeast of here, fanned by the winds which now send soot skipping across the clouds to fall on vineyards and fields of corn.
My lungs strain against the thickened air. I feel every day of my age, of an age that my mother never got to be. Her memory pulled me from a dreamless sleep. I hear my sister’s voice again, the same calm cadence, the same final mandate, echoing now for thirty-five years: It’s time to come home. Recently, a friend lost her mother. When does it get easier, she whispered to me over the telephone. Never, I thought but did not say. Never. Aloud I promised my friend that eventually the pain would ease. Like the wind, and the smoke, and the tides; the searing loss will recede. You will wrap yourself in memories and continue with whatever you have left of the life which she gave you.
It’s the twenty-first day of the ninetieth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.
LUCILLE JOHANNA LYONS CORLEY
10 September 1926 — 21 August 1985
GONE TOO SOON AND NEVER FORGOTTEN.
Please enjoy a few photos:
Last month’s full moon; the sun in a smokey morning sky; egrets in the Delta near my home.