I heard the unsettling news that an old friend died suddenly last January. We were in college together, and he was part of the Cantina gang, many of us Mass Comm majors at CSU Pueblo. We talked about having lunch, taking time to catch up, but you know…we didn’t. It was disconcerting that he died so suddenly, and also that I didn’t hear about it for such a long time.
Another friend from that same group is desperately ill, and I’ve struggled a lot this year with the sudden, extreme illness of a another friend.
And then, I found a hummingbird, dead and eviserated on my dining room floor. I’d been hoping it was too fast for the cats, but clearly, they got him. I was quite upset by it.
So I wandered out to the garden to water the lilacs and the peach tree. (What a long hot summer it has been!) It’s all in full, intense, maturity at the moment, everything big and sturdy and fertile. The peach tree is so heavily laden with peaches that the branches are bending over, touching the ground, and every day I test them gently to see if any of them are ripe. I have to say, they are not the most perfect peaches that have ever been grown. They are smallish and most of them have marks from the endless hailstorm that fell for three hours one June twilight.
But they are my peaches, from the tree I have been tending carefully, so to me they are beautiful. I stood next to the tree and thanked her, once again, for all she’s had to endure, and as if to nudge me back, she offered a hidden peach, one growing in a protected spot near her belly. I reached for it, and it fell off right into my palm–furry and ruddy, all the soft green gone from the skin. One hailstone injured it, but the peach grew around the spot, giving it a dimple. In the store, you might pass this peach over for one that was more perfectly symmetrical. I held it in my palm, marveling at all the days it grew, all the days of this very specific summer. I ran it under the water and bit into the furry round side, and the taste of this very summer, the cold hail and the hot hot days and even the smoke were there, in the flesh, each day bringing its own gift to the flesh, to the sweetness. It was every so slightly warm, and juice burst into my mouth, ran down my chin and down my arm. I stood next to my friend the peach tree and let her see how much I appreciated the gift, how lovely it was, this very singular, very ordinary, unique peach, the only one just like itself in all the world.
I looked over the garden to the swing, took in the brussels and sunflowers and the swing at the far end, and knew that in grieving my friend and the hummingbird, I’m also grieving the fact taht someday I have to leave this plane, too.
But right now, with peach juice running down my chin and arm, I am alive. I have this moment, this very summer, this very singular, very ordinary day. And that’s enough.
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