Sunday, April 10, 2011

Beautiful day filled with joy, sadness -- and light

The lovely Miss Wendy and I spent much of Sunday enjoying the gifts of spring. All is abloom here in the Land of Cotton, a colorful mosaic of dogwood trees and towering pines, azaleas and crape myrtles, tulips, impatiens and zinnias – and that’s just my front yard!

We got off to an early start, strolling along the walking path that parallels the Chattahoochee River; sharing the turf and beautiful day with bikers and joggers, fitness freaks and families; friends, lovers and solitary souls all looking about, watching one another watch one another.

We then zipped over to Alon’s for a leisurely late brunch. It seemed a few dozen other folks had the same idea at just about the same time we did. But the service was quick and efficient, the food plentiful and delicious and the ambiance upbeat and cosmopolitan.

The special spring vibe I was feeling could have stalled out once my lawn mower kicked in later in the afternoon. I was back to whacking away at weeds, a chore that can easily turn the sweetest day sour. Spread out, it would seem, as far as I could see was a ratty carpet of dandelions and crabgrass, moss and clover. My mood was growing dark and then I spotted my neighbors.

Ed was getting into his car, his wife Gloria hugging another neighbor from across the street before climbing into the passenger seat. Wendy walked out onto our driveway, looked over at Ed and Gloria, then looked my way. Neither of us said a word but there was much being communicated – a lifted eyebrow, shrug of the shoulder, then a casual shifting of the arms and hands.

Together we began walking next door, sorting out what we might say. Gloria was diagnosed with a stage-4 brain tumor just before Christmas. She has been undergoing treatment at Emory. The news recently from her doctors has been cloaked in that language you hate to hear. The very best they’ve been able to offer is a less than hopeful momentary reprieve.

So Ed and Gloria are off to Chapel Hill, chasing the possibility that Gloria might take part in an onerous clinical study. It’s the sort of thing you do when there really isn’t anything else left to do. Wendy and I wished Gloria all the best and let her know that we’ll be thinking of her and that, of course, she has all our prayers. There was silence and tears. I like to think also there was a moment of comfort.

We said our goodbyes and they drove away. I returned to my puttering lawn mower and looked back across my yard. It shimmered warmly underneath the afternoon sun, a field grown darkly green, lush with promises of tomorrow. The words of the poet turn out to be true.

“We cannot hold a torch to light another's path without brightening our own." And so it goes.

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