An extreme storm is predicted for tonite and tomorrow. High winds, rain and blackouts. Or so the weather people say. I’m not surprised, the Weather people always were extremists. Just in case, I dug into my back closet to retrieve the hurricane lamp Stew and I bought for just such an emergency during Catskill Mountain winters. Along with its glass base and chimney, a white cotton wick and lamp oil, I found five of Stew’s old poems, three written to me and two to Jessica, with wildflowers dried golden brown pressed and preserved inside their wooden frames.
My grief for David is still raw. To comfort me, more than one person has said it’s a gift to have had two such incredible husbands. I rejected this at first: how could it be gift to go through the pain of not one but two such deaths? I’ve changed my mind, but can’t articulate exactly why as yet. Some day I want to write about both David and Stew, focussing not so much on them as men but on the process of their dying. I’ll keep you posted.
In his later years, Stew would always write a poem for me on my birthday. Stew must have written this one in June of 2004, when he was going through treatment for Hepatitis C, a year and a half before he died. It applies equally to David.
The Judy Flag
Crawling upstairs out of breath
like drowning in sad streams
but with high purpose in my stumbling
in a room at the top
we are celebrating Judy’s 61st birthday.
I need to give a speech
of appreciation, hope and celebration
proclaiming limitless love.
We are half way through hell
holding up to its flame.
Judy keeps going
with fullest inspiration
Her flag of kavanah
proclaiming the struggle continues forever
and so, boldly,
is why I bother to get out of bed
doing battle in countless wars,
her proud banner
of one more noble year
her great gift
to the stumblers up the stairs.
Let her quiet tears be dried in joy and love.
Right now my Judy flag flies at half-staff, but I hope to raise it up the flagpole some time in the future; I can’t say when.