Seeing the world as Mary did

Tomorrow is the six-month anniversary of the death of my friend Mary.  Two whole seasons have passed, a third one has begun, and there are still times when her death feels utterly unreal.  And then there are times when I think of her and cry, because it’s horribly real.

I am finding that the start of summer is making me miss her in a whole new way. Summer was when we’d always go camping with Mary and her husband Tom and a group of other very dear friends.  We’d eat like kings and drink like fishes and laugh like crazy people over the dictionary game, Mary’s own version of Balderdash.  There’s going to be a Mary-sized hole on the camping trip this year, and even though I know she’ll be there in spirit, I am human enough to wish like mad that she were there in the flesh.

One of the wisest things anyone ever said to me is that grief is not linear.  After you suffer a loss, you don’t slowly feel a little bit better every day.  It’s more like you’re a pinball in a machine, and you zig and zag all over the place, sometimes going way up and sometimes plummeting down.   And God, I miss her a lot.

But I talk to her a lot, too.  This picture of the two of us is one that I have framed on my writing/prayer desk.  It was taken at the camping trip at Big Basin, the summer that Matthew was only nine months old.   It was Mary in her element, and I love having her beam on me as I read, as I write, as I pray, or as I just sit and let myself be still.  I often ask for her to pray for me as a writer,  because she was an artist herself, a photographer who loved to celebrate beauty wherever she found it.  That was one of her gifts: noticing the beauty that is right under our noses, whether it’s in a jumbled bin of erasers or a weathered pair of doors.   I love looking at her pictures, because it’s sort of crawling into her soul and getting to see  the world through her eyes.

So as I begin my summer vacation, one in which I hope to fully immerse myself in mothering and in writing, I am asking Mary to pray for me.  I hope to become better at doing what she did: paying attention to what is right in front of me and seeing it for the beauty that it is.

That kind of mindfulness  lies at the heart of creativity, and at the heart of prayer.  And it’s a way to keep Mary alive in my own heart, too.

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