I wish so much that I had a hundred photographs so that I could show them all to you.
"This," I would say, "was Becky when she was a baby. And then I could point to another picture and say, "This is how we all looked back when Hank and May and Sarah and Becky were babies. Don't we look so young? And over here," I'd point to another, "this is what Sarah's children look like. Aren't they gorgeous? And doesn't Sarah look just like her mother and didn't Becky too?"
I would have pictures of the small orchestra that played at the service yesterday with David's mother conducting it, her long white hair braided and wrapped into a bun, her posture like that of a nineteen-year-old ballet dancer's, the life-force bursting from her as Bach and Mozart was played. I would have pictures of Becky's aunt, and tell you about the soaring soprano voice of hers which raised to the rafters and floated above us all and moved our hearts and was sacred. I would show you pictures of the band who sang a John Prine song and a Bonnie Raitt song because Becky had loved them and that was sacred too.
But already you can tell- pictures wouldn't do it. There would have to be sound.
The sound of David's voice as he talked about his daughter and the camp she wanted to start for kids with severe disabilities like the kids she taught, so that the children could go to camp and their caregivers could take a break, a vacation.
There was all of that and e.e. cummings and there were all the people. The people who knew Becky as an adult and the people who had known her parents since they were young themselves, before they knew what heartbreak was. When life was perfect before them, everything complete potential and despite the problems of how to make a living and toddler tantrums, knew in their hearts that everything was good and as it should be and that this is how it should be and I'm not telling this right.
There was the sound of crying. There was the husband who had married Becky a week after her diagnosis and loved her with all of his being up until and still. Who was by her side until that was denied him by her passing.
There was the sight of pure, steel strength. There were children and there were hands clasped tightly and there were whispered stories and there were deep, full hugs and I-love-you's.
No, no, no. I'm not getting this right.
Listen. We came together. All of us. The parents and the step-parents and the aunts and uncles and nieces and nephews and grandparents and step-grandparents and the friends. If I laid out a chart of how all of these people are part of my life, you would not believe it. I would show you pictures and say, "See this boy? I loved him and his mother is right there and his brother was one of my best friends, and see this boy? I loved him too and his mother is there, his father there. See this man? I was married to him and he was the father's best friend from childhood and...oh, it's already confusing.
Life is so strange and we get so entwined with each other.
When I was a very young woman I was intimidated as hell by David's mother. Everyone was. EVERY one. She was a force of nature. She raised four kids and taught music and stil managed to get from Winter Haven to Tallahassee (and she flat-out flew down the highways, she was famous for that drive and how quickly she could make it) to get her PhD in music and she gave parties and she was the wife of a doctor who was also a grove-owner and her kids all grew up to be musicians and she scared the living daylights out of me.
Last night she said to me, "I like your hair." My hair is currently extremely long but not as long as hers.
"I like yours, too," I said.
"I just got eight inches cut off," she told me. "It was down to the bottom of my butt."
And after all these years of me thinking she never liked me, we got down TO IT. We talked about life and mothering and mothers and kids and grandkids and this morning when I saw her at breakfast, she called me "Sweetie" and something in me is healed by that.
And just saying that makes me feel so selfish but there you are.
Another good friend from high school showed up. I looked up through the window of Becky and Chris's house where we were all gathering and I saw his face and it was a complete surprise and it was completely not a surprise. My best friend from high school's brother, another man I loved to pieces. And we all sat around and we told stories and we laughed and of course we cried and I held the mama of Becky and I kissed her face over and over again and I told her, "You are such a good mother. Such a good mother," and she said, "Maybe I was too proud of her. Maybe that was it," and I said, "No, no. That's not it," and she knew I was right.
And then one of her grandsons told her he needed to poop and she took him to the bathroom.
I remember when she was having her first child and I held her like that and told her how strong she was being. And she was. And she is.
I told her about Owen saying that his heart was filled with chicken-banging poop for me and she laughed and she has the most beautiful laugh in the world.
And then we cried again in each other's arms.
It was like that and when you are all so entwined together, there is such strength.
Do you see these pictures? Can you hear the soprano voice, the beautiful laughter, the sighs, the sobs, the child asking to be taken to the bathroom?
And my husband stayed by my side and he carried me up there and he carried me back and I was so anxious at times and I was the worst navigator ever and I got pissy and I was a mess and he just let me be a mess and he talked to David's daddy about cows and he held my hand during the service and I hear that David's stepmama (whom I have known for forty-one years) said that Glen Moon is a "sweetheart."
And it's Father's Day and he IS a sweetheart and if you don't think that meeting him was the best thing that ever happened to me, you don't know me very well and that's saying a lot because I've met a lot of people who are the best, good people, and I saw so many of them this weekend and despite the nine hours up there and the nine hours back, it was one of the most important things I ever did, to go to that service and to celebrate the life of Becky Davidson May, and that sweetheart, Glen Moon, held my hand and got us there and got us back.
Bless the fathers who help the mothers all the way from birth until whatever happens. Bless the fathers who do not run when things get crazy and hard. Bless the way they work and always want to do the best for their kids and then their grandkids. Bless them for recognizing and honoring the mothers. Bless them for being there.
For being there.
All right. I don't have pictures. I don't have sounds. I don't have anything but words and I'm so tired and so wired that they're not coming out right.
We're home. The chickens are shut up and I guess I should unpack and I'm not doing one load of laundry until tomorrow. I'm home in the house that Glen Moon bought because I wanted it so badly and I'm so grateful for all of it, this crazy life, his love, the love of friends, of family. I dreamed this morning of parrots, their feathers so brightly colored that they hurt my eyes and of dogs with the softest fur brushing my legs and of grandchildren arriving in the early dawn and me holding them in my arms and saying, "I have missed you. I have missed you so much."
There are my pictures. There are the sounds.
I might fall apart now or I might not. It's all swirling in my head, and my heart is busted open and taking in and leaking out.
Bless us all. Bless David and Karen and Chris and bless Becky who was born and who lived thirty-three years and who loved and who was loved by so many and who taught kids that everyone else had given up on and who sang and wrote songs and who was something golden and special and who is not here on this planet with us anymore and here is the poem which David said at the service, at the celebration, that no one could read without breaking down so they just projected the words on the wall and we all read it in silence and I give it to you.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)