Thursday, July 12, 2018

Seamus' Final Voyage

Last Sunday after a brief lakeside gathering with some of our favorite people, we left Seamus' ashes in the place where we spent our last vacation with him. Rocks were thrown, tears were shed, hugs were given, and best of all, we initiated all of the new friends and family members who have come into our lives since he left us in 2010. Eric and I are so grateful to all who made the trek up to Glacier National Park, and to everyone who will continue to think of Seamus when they come across a rocky shoreline, a bright moon, or a monarch "buddy buddy." 

The night before the send-off, Eric and my sister-in-law Laura helped all the kids make boats out of sticks, reeds, flower petals, and leaves. The plan was to put the boats in the lake on the spot where we left the ashes. You can see the boats lined up in front of the photo above. 

I love this picture of the little kids ignoring the somber adults, choosing to throw rocks instead. Seamus would fit right in with this crowd! 

The day after our gathering, Eric and the kids and I took Seamus' ashes on a boat ride. Once we got to a secluded spot, we all reached into the bag and dropped a handful of ashes, then I emptied the bag into the lake. We sprinkled flower petals and then the kids set the boats in the water and said, "Bye, Seamus!"

I thought the ashes would sink but they created this beautiful white cloud. Those are flower petals on the right.

Squint and you can see the flower petals, boats, and ashes.

I wasn't sure how I would feel leaving his ashes behind. I got up at 4:30 the morning we left to sit by the lake and watch the sun come up. For now, it feels right, to have a peaceful place where we can visit and feel connected to him. And I also know that the ashes aren't Seamus, that he is with me always. 

Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
-W.S. Merwin

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

On Civility

In The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman writes about efforts to reform the French army uniform, which included red hats and trousers. The uniforms were a point of pride among French soldiers dating back to 19th century conflicts, when rifles could only fire a few hundred yards and armies fought at close quarters.

She quotes the Parisian daily newspaper: "To banish all that is colorful, all that gives the soldier his vivid aspect is to go contrary both to French taste and military function."

A former War Minister stood up in a parliamentary hearing and said "Eliminate the red trouser? Never! Le pantalon rouge c'est la France!"


(The decision, Tuchman notes rather understatedly, "was to have cruel consequences.")

Mainstream Democrats out there calling for civility, trying to find moderate positions on healthcare, economic inequality, immigration, police violence, gun control, abortion, or any other issue of vital importance to their constituents and the world at large ... They are the assholes insisting we go to war wearing red hats. And they're going to get a bunch of us killed in the process. And we'll probably lose the war, too.