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.