My sister Bird is hard to understand. She has always been like someone I see through tall grass or peering back from pieces of a broken mirror. There are impressions, singular and distinct, without a strong sense of knowing.
Likely I am the same to her.
We are only two years apart in age. She is the older one. We were close only sometimes as children. Bird always wanted to get away, spending her free time with neighbor kids. I liked to find safe and quiet spaces on our farm, away from others, where I could drift in and out of fantasies inspired by the books I read.
She has not always had it easy. Or, more accurately, she is often in a maelstrom towards which she guided herself with many guileless little choices. That isn’t the same as doing it the hard way. She finds the will and strength to kick out, to break from the whirlpool, looking for land, safe and solid and dry.
Her husbands have each been like this; some have seemed like the harbor only to become the swap. Others have always been sinkholes, although she skirted round them, making the most of it, never quite staring it in the face long enough to draw a breath and decide to leave.
Eventually she ends it. Three husbands, a life in three acts.
Now the third one she has just left, so newly she probably still finds his hair or scent in the laundry. At the same time, she is staring down her second run in with cancer. I want to say, ‘Be strong.’ Yet this seems presumptuous. How do I know this person of fragments, this woman glimpsed through wild grass, unknowable to me for so many years, isn’t already fully sure she is strong enough?
I think she is.
I pray for her. Prayer has been a hard thing to define for a man who no longer believes in a sentient father god. It has been a discovery to think of prayer as a wish extended into the void of the universe.
In some ways I see this void as my eyes see it. It is black, yet sparkles with light. It is deep and merciless and wild. Still, I see it as my heart sees it, too. It is where all energy begins and ends, some anchored here on this rock, some gathered to brood on the moon and vibrate on the sun. In this mass of energy there is the makeup of what we call love. Hope. Kindness.
It isn’t necessary to know every mystery. Neither of the universe or of your own flesh and blood. But quietly you can close your eyes, let your heart peer out through the stars, and send up a fervent wish.
I hope the universe helps to knit your body, woman of the whirlpool and wild grasses, sister for this life. Keep kicking out, pulling yourself to safe harbor.