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Absolute, unbroken continuity

I’ve been riding the hell out of my bike lately. An old, second-hand ten speed. I take it out every morning I can, very early, around 5:30, and ride up and down and up and down the streets in my neighbourhood block until my butt is numb and my fingers ache clutching the handlebars. It’s helping me deal with my grief over my friend’s death. In all those miles of pedaling, something is getting worked out. It’s good.

My little town is a mix of blue and white collars, and many start their day very early. Even before the streetlights start winking out, kitchen lights have been burning for a while. I was surprised at how much traffic there is – folks heading off to their shift or down to Timmy’s for a fortifying “double-double” to begin the morning.

Lots of wildlife out that time of day too – bunnies scampering across people’s lawns or peeking out from under the semi trailers at the distillery, feral cats that I think are getting used to this strange human on her alien craft, and birds! Oh my, the birds! Robins are the first to greet the light, then the sparrows, and then the mourning doves. There’s a full-throated cardinal that hails me every time with an enthusiastic and ever-so-affirming “Oh! Pretty, pretty, pretty, pretty!” But lest I become vain, a blue jay a little further down the road gives his equally enthusiastic opinion, “Yikes! Yikes! Yikes! Yikes!”

It’s all good.

Jill’s daughter invited The Mister and I, and all the friends who helped to look after her mum to lunch on Monday. It was a lovely time with much laughter and good food. We traded stories and jokes, and at the end of the meal, she related something that made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.

Let me preface this by saying that about a month before Jill died, I found the poem I would read at her memorial on FaceBook. Someone posted it on their page who had no idea who Jill was or what I was going through at the time. I immediately ran it off and kept it aside, ignoring the guilt of planning something for her funeral before she was even dying.

After she passed, her daughter and granddaughter were going through some boxes a few days before the memorial service, and found a poem Jill had kept through the years. They didn’t know where it had come from or why she had saved it, but they commented on how beautiful it was, and how apropos to have discovered it now. It was right about then that I sent a message to them saying I’d found a poem online a while back which I thought they’d find very consoling and should I send it on to them? No, her daughter replied, but we want you to read it at the memorial. Any poem you select will be fine, they said. No need to see it in advance.

Needless to say, a day or two later, they heard me read from the pulpit the very poem they’d found among Jill’s possessions, Henry Scott Holland’s “Death is nothing at all.” The text of the poem is written out in my previous post below should you want to read it. Particularly meaningful and touching to me now is the line, “There is absolute, unbroken continuity.” She’s gone, yes, but something of her remains. Something so powerful and so loving it enabled her to orchestrate this final, wonderful bit of synchronicity. Someone called coincidences “God winks.” I like to think of this one as a “Jill wink.”

Thanks for thinking of us, dear friend.


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  1. Valerie Hess
    Posted July 30, 2015 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Wow! What a coincidence. Your friend was helping you find “her” poem.

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted July 30, 2015 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      The whole thing just gave me shivers, Valerie. And still does. Such a comfort to know the connection endures.

  2. Karen Rockwell
    Posted July 30, 2015 at 3:16 am | Permalink

    I love the way this happened! It is powerful and wonderful indeed – and the poem is so lovely. (I’m borrowing it for myself) What a gift you all received!

    • Penny-Anne
      Posted July 30, 2015 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      Oh borrow away, Karen! It was indeed a gift to me and meant to be shared.

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