in an instant
Sitting at my desk, working on words of loss, I watch a thousand cottonwood seeds drift by the window. White wisps rising on the breeze, lifted from my sight. Summer’s snow globe, shaken and set to spin.
I remember noticing them, as if for the first time, the summer after our twins died. One afternoon the blue sky was filled with a million floating puffs, light and airy. As I stumbled staring up at them, circling, I could see, startling: it’s like every small soul who’s leaving this side of life and rushing to whatever comes next. Right before my eyes.
Suddenly I could see. The flash of an instant when the tiny and the cosmic connect.
They weren’t nothing, these babies we lost, so many of us, millions. They weren’t just seeds either, mere possibility and potential.
They were life, they were hope, they were real, they were all around us, they were too many to count.
We wanted them to stay, but they floated just beyond our reach, and every time we grasped after them, the breeze lifted them higher.
Each year in these blooming summer weeks when the cottonwoods flood the air and trees and yards with soft blowing seeds, I remember: it’s happening again today, everywhere and always. The loss, the grief, the lifting of another soul to heaven, the letting go of a life.
People ask me to pray for them, their babies, their friends, their family, their miscarriage, their stillbirth, their loss. All I can do is hold these stories, bless them for an instant, and send them back.
Prayer can feel like a thousand puffs of air. But some days it bursts through like perfect sense: seeing the truth of each soul, clear as day, surrounding them with love, whether here or gone.
Grief changes our vision, permanently. Now I notice the small, the least, the forgotten, the overlooked.
On the dark days when I want to hurl it all back—the insight or growth or perspective or wisdom, any of the consolation prizes that fail next to flesh-and-blood—I remember. I could not see like this if I had not lost like that.
And if paying attention is the beginning of prayer, if love means seeing each other, if healing starts with opened eyes, if we are called to come and see—can I dismiss even this? A thousand million trillion rushing hoping sparks of light reminding me that life is fleeting, fast, fragile but real, so real?
Look up. Look down. Look all around.
Whatever we call heaven is the other side of here. I can almost hear it breathe. Whatever we call hope is rising right before our eyes.
. . .
Why not dust off the ol’ blog in honor of two months sans posts? Also: in my ongoing wrestling match with social media, I started wondering why I share all my thoughts on Instagram these days & not on my own site?
Bloggers are always bemoaning the death of the blog, but the ones to bring it back would be…us.
Call it a summer experiment. Call it flash non-fiction. Call it a reward for the social media hold-outs. Whatever you call it, I’m glad you’re here.
Thank you for your writings. They are truly a gift.
What a beautiful post! Sorry for your losses.
I have stayed on blog (and like you, it sometimes gets dusty). IG seems great fun but the temptation to ‘show up’ is too great. I totally love this post. Your posts often causes me to pause and pray (for you too, after I met you and found you are a smallish person like myself, a strange comfort I know)… and sometimes to share the wonderful turns of phrases which carry such a wallop of wisdom. Thank you Laura!
I have been thinking a lot lately about how much more I enjoyed blogging and blog reading than I do Instagram posting and scrolling. I feel like blogs have gone the way of the dinosaurs—but there’s one way to bring them back! We have to just do it!
It’s good to have you back. Your writing is always an inspiration for me to go deeper and be a part of a “deeper society” (a little of David Brooks, “The Second Mountain: the Quest for a Moral Life.”
Yay! I’m not on social media, and I get really excited when I receive an email notification that your blog is active 🙂 thank you!!!
Thank you for writing here again. I don’t do Instagram, but I love reading you. I was just telling two friends about you yesterday , so I’m forwarding this to them. Peace, Laura — and I hope you continue writing here. Kay Rindal
I don’t have time to f o Instagram (though I’m a writer, photographer, and fiercely creative: I’d bw good at it). I also am nomadic without proper work space or any computer beyond my phone right now after my tablet inexplicably died a wek ago. I get it. I have three blogs (I’m St. Val the Eccentric and St. Val the Urban Monastic on WP), and all I want to do is write. But life lived moving every three hours with thoughts as elusuve amd mysterious as cottonwood fluff (even to me, they don’t ever stop to take up residence in my brain very often) keep me from writing. Write on, we’re reading. xxxxx
I’m here! And agree with you 100%. Thanks for continuing to share your hard earned, beautiful wisdom with us.