Stones From the River Quote

I am re-reading Stones From the River by Ursula Hegi. It was an uncomfortable book to read when it first came out and I wondered if now, a few years later, I’d still have that reaction. So I decided to try again. Once I finish the book, I’ll talk more about that.

But for now, this paragraph captured me. Trudi is the protagonist.

‘It was like that with stories: she could see beneath their surface, know the undercurrents, the whirlpools that could take you down, the hidden clusters of rocks. Stories could blind you, rise around you in a myriad of colors. Every time Trudi took a story and let it stream through her mind from beginning to end, it grew fuller, richer, feeding on her visions of those people the story belonged to until it left its bed like the river she loved. And it was then that she’d have to tell the story to someone.’

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A Quick Freezer Story

I know my posts have been serious lately with our recent loss so here’s something that might make you smile.

A blog post I just read online was about how fish can survive being frozen solid, as in a pond. It reminded me of this, which some of you have probably heard many times as it still makes me laugh.

I used to know a classic old cat lady. One day while visiting she said she was thawing out a pot roast and asked if I wanted to stay for dinner. Can you see where this story is going?

She started to unwrap the pot roast, stopped, stared, and said ‘That’s not pot roast! That’s CC!’

Yep. She’d thawed her cat, CC, for dinner.

It was winter and she couldn’t dig the frozen ground to bury CC when the cat died. So she wrapped him up and popped him in the freezer to wait until spring.

Except that she thawed him out for dinner.

I never ate there after that.

And by the way, CC was a nasty mean old cat that would attack and bite you every chance he got. I believe he eventually ended up buried under a rose bush.

But first he had to thaw in the sink.

For Sam

There are times when you know that something will become a snapshot in your memory. A moment of profound clarity that will forever be with you.

When you first hear the news that her son, that baby, that toddler, that gawky teenager, that wonderful, grounded young man, has been taken.

When you walk in the house and see her and feel that moment of relief because she’s there, in the circle of women. Those women, who have all been in many circles with her over the years.

You see how the women grieve. Always touching, tears flowing freely, hands held, hair stroked back. The one who presses a mug of soup into her hand. They sit close, so close the circle is closed.

The men grieve just as deeply. But they hover in the periphery, helpless. This is something they can’t fix. So they wait, and watch their women for the moment there is something they can do. A table to put up for all the food. A fire to be started outside. To step in and hold someone when needed. To talk in low voices out on the porch, to look up at the mountains so no one will see their tears.

Except for the middle child. Now the oldest child. He comes to the circle of women and is enfolded. The youngest, still the youngest, moves through the fringe, seeks solitude, and then they, too, come to the circle.

That moment when she’s talking, and then goes still, her gaze inward. What does she see? That moment when she first felt him move, first knew those cells were her child? His first smile? The last moment she spoke to him, not knowing it was the last?

That moment when they are talking about the need to go to the funeral home to see him. This woman, this strong earth mother, who has rescued strangers from the river, who knows what to expect. And she says, ‘the river was kind to him’.

The river took him for its own, but in the end was kind in its taking.

And now he goes where none of us can yet follow, into river and wind and mountains.

Last night the tiny town lit candles so he could find his way home.

We step forward into a life we never expected, finding a path we don’t want to follow. But we form circles. We hug. We touch. We sob so deep it becomes the moan of the wind. And we never forget.

We just grieve and grieve and grieve into our rivers.

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