A Little "Hope" Helps

The windy wet weather has been blown back to sea by a strong northerly delivering blue skies and promising single digits. That's how it is, gray skies clear. The sun sets and it rises.  While the weather has been mild, it has been anything but a gentle week. My 90 year-old swimming pool friend Marge lost her 26 year-old grandson. He and his siblings grew up with all my kids. I played  a lot of softball with his mother. He had been missing a few days, and after much searching was found dead near the fairgrounds.  It appears he took his own life. It is so terribly sad it has slayed everyone. Marge and her family have lived here a long time, and this morning at the pool she said they are rallying as best as they can-- telling the good stories. Marge said laughter is the best medicine, but it's so difficult right now. The first response to such bad news is to hug your children, or call or text them if they are out of town, and say "I love you" and "are you all right?"  I attended a funeral yesterday for  a logger with a poet's heart. He was 91 and had lived a rich, rewarding life. Nancy Nash played the hymns. "How Great Thou Art" lead off. I'm sure I wasn't the only one who sang it, and who heard the words of the 23rd Psalm,  with a much heavier heart because of  the news of the younger man's tragic death.  At choir practice last night Nancy, whose son was friends with him, told us her boy had just returned home from visiting the family and walked in the kitchen and hugged his father.  She sighed. "It's been a very difficult week." Then Nancy asked if we'd please sing a piece for her that we hadn't sung in a while, and one which wasn't on the program for our performance right after rehearsal for visiting eagle fest participants. It is called "Hope." Nancy set the words of an Emily Dickinson poem to an old Irish hymn. "Hope is the thing with feathers that perches on the soul," it begins-- and   continues  with the sentiment that while hope gives comfort in the gales and storms of life, "It never asks a crumb of me." Even though it was just us-- about 15 women standing in the closed museum where we practice-- blending our voices, our breath and our hearts  all together for Nancy-- and for  Marge and her family, for the EMTs and police and rescue folks,  and for us too, and for this community, it helped. It really did.

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