When I first encountered Emily Dickinson’s poetry in high school, during the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius and Vietnam War protests, I thought there was nothing “relevant” about it at all. Not many years later, I began to appreciate her intensely private world, discovering she was not the maudlin old maid my sophomoric-self had imagined, earlier. Her lines, edited down to within an inch of their existence, become poignant, visceral expressions of the paradoxes of life. “I Can Wade Grief” for example.
It’s words have rambled through the corridors of my brain these days I’ve spent crossing hospital hallways, pressing door buttons, entering intensive care units, sitting quietly, or punching parking tickets. And now that Jim doesn’t look like an ashen corpse or jaundice, swollen war victim anymore, I can begin to believe that we’re past the life and death moment of this experience. With each step he takes, the Himalaya mountain I’ve been carrying melts and the tender words and acts of compassion you all have so profusely shared with us overwhelm my being with gratitude, which at the most unexpected moments, makes my feet break, chest heave and tears finally flow, as I release the penned-up emotions I had no room to face in that dark, narrow tunnel.
Today, the sun is shining in a cloudless, winter, Ohio sky. Eventually, the snow will melt, spring will come and we’ll be granted yet another summer to rally in our own private Eden, basking in the rays of love which crumble grief and wilt giants.