Not long before midnight, I put on my miner’s lamp and tour the yard like a one-eyed Cyclops. It’s March 19, 2012, usually a time for snow on my hill in the Finger Lakes of New York, but instead of snow, I look toward the earth and illuminate pale snowdrops, purple crocus, and delicate dwarf daffodils. I walk toward the vegetable garden and lift my head to shine the beam on cascading forsythia and then I inspect the swelling lilac buds. Saving the best for last, I walk toward the white magnolia, tip my head back, and catch a glimpse of red Mars before peering into the precocious white blossoms. The night is so warm that the flowers still share their erotic sunlit scent. The peepers serenade from the swamp across the road.
“Home, home. I love being home,” my heart sings her favorite song. Then I go inside and wait for the grief to hit before I go to sleep. Instead, I fall asleep. At dawn on Tuesday morning, still on California time, I am still waiting for the psychological crash. It does not come.
I know my history. I know that when I return from a trip, I am hit hard by grief and loss. I know the sinking gut, the inability to breathe, the girlish helplessness, the desperate longing. Where is Vic? my body asks even though my husband has been dead for more than three years. Why isn’t he here? He should be here.
I prepared myself for the inevitable meltdown in the San Francisco airport, during the late long flight to Newark, in the Newark airport eating a miracle salad I found in a food court, waiting on the runway for the plane to fly, and in the Ithaca airport where no one was meeting me. I kept talking as I found my Suburu in the parking lot and drove to Wegman’s for a few days of salad and yogurt.
“Be still,” I crooned to my soul, remembering T.S. Elliot as I drove across the Finger Lakes National Forest and entered my driveway.
The house was standing—always a relief. The dogs were at the kennel until the next morning. I was alone in midnight beauty with swamp serenades and sumptuous scents.
The crash? It did not come.
Something has shifted after so many years of grieving. Instead of Vic’s absence, I feel the presence of this land, my sanctuary, my writer’s retreat, my nourishing home on this earth. Instead of tears, the Venus/Jupiter conjunction dazzles me as it sinks toward the western horizon.