I’m in Seattle with my son and with Venta, Laurel’s Campaign Director, and all the while, I am thinking about a new friend, head of a girls’ school I admire, who died swiftly this week. Between when I learned the news that she was ill on Friday morning the airport and this morning, she is gone from the earth. Yesterday, in San Francisco, I noticed the cherry blossoms and sent up a fervent plea for a miracle. But this morning, in Seattle, the news of her death reaches me. I feel lonesome, a little presumptuous that I feel so sad because we were not every day friends, yet. I grieve for her family, for her daughter and husband and her school and for possibility, thinking we would have had a longer time to come to know each other. We served on a panel together a few years ago, and I loved the sound of her voice, her smart words, her glorious grey hair, her silk scarf. I wanted to be friends.
This morning, I also read the eulogy my beloved friend, Marcia, had written for her sister, who died earlier in the week and whose graveside service I missed today because I am far away, not with my friend.
I feel heavy with sadness. It seems I meditate on grief and loss continuously. It is a hard diet.
We stand at the top of the Space Needle, my son agog with the virtual reality glasses that allow him to bungee jump from the needle’s side, and my eyes fill. I feel as if I am bungee jumping into sorrow—school shootings, friends, grey snow falling all around us, though we hear it rarely snows in Seattle, and on the VR video, the skies are blue and clear.
Next, we head into the Chihuly exhibit and garden. In a dark room, rainbow glass glows, full of joy and whimsy. I think about my husband, carefully assembling our faux Chihuly chandelier that illuminates the staircase in our home. We bought it on one of our first trips back to NYC from Ohio, when we were mourning our life in the city. Now, I often take its hues for granted, but here in this exhibit, I remember how lucky we are even to have such loveliness in our midst: chandeliers, colleagues, old friends, children, new friends, opportunities to travel, purpose. In theatre, we talk about having to hug the whole experience. I am so grateful to be here on this trip with my son, who is still young enough to enjoy my company. I am glad to have a break from the everyday drama that characterizes school life in February. I need a break from thinking about lock-down drills and children slaughtered and people who die. That the price of love is loss feels high today. But Chihuly lifts my spirits, reminds me, on Stephanie’s behalf, that sorrow cannot triumph. I can feel sad, can cry alone in a quiet gallery in the presence of exquisite beauty, but eventually, I must stand up. My son has already gone outside into the flurries. Venta and I join him. He snaps my photo with his new I-phone, tickled by the vivid installations and the portrait feature of the phone. I smile. He knows I am sad and knows I am trying not to bring him down. I am amazed that glass pieces are placed throughout the garden, enduring wind and weather, even snow. The glass, it seems, is stronger than it looks, more durable, like love.