IMG_0504A willy wag tails sits before me, swinging his tail, then falling into quiet repose, while the afternoon grows long.

Just before, I dropped my eldest at the airport so he can return to the final push of study, and to be reunited with the love of his life. His future burgeons before him, full of uncertainty and adventure.

Our other two sons in form me they will be out tonight. It’s Saturday, and they have found friends. Their worlds are finding new orbits. This house echoes with the laughter of seasons past. More and more, there is only Judy and I, two people who stepped out so long ago and built a future that is now a past. Together, we will journey into joy and sadness together, deepening the bonds that hold this universe of knowing. Silence is its language, words could never own this theatre.

Beyond, children play as only children play, effortlessly and with abandon. I’m standing under a lilac sky, bringing in the washing. The children’s laughter tumbles me into melancholy. Their parents, twenty years behind us, look exhausted and frantic. I want to tell them to enjoy every moment, every day, every scraped knee and every loose tooth, but they don’t seem to have time to take it all in. Why does life rush at us in torrents and leave us with only the gouged erosion of its intensity? Is this how God carves the landscape of our souls? There is surely a canyon within me. Though the form was children, Love was always the water, and is still the void that is left behind.

I tip a concoction of chemicals into our pool, rarely used by anyone these days. I recall my now deceased neighbour Vic muttering to me a quarter of a century ago how he sold the house in which he and his wife had raised their family because he was sick of caring for a pool that only reminded him of joys that were then but memories. He was tending the past, and it grew sour in him. That’s a real danger of grief. I tend the past, and I cannot not be glad. These tears are seeds sown from trees I planted long ago. I do not know what these seeds will become, all I know is that I must sow.

I saw Vic’s widow recently. She’s frail and mostly shut in; she begged me to bring my wife and sit with her. All her life is memories. Grief is love revisited alone. But its pain reminds us that we are never alone. Never.

My neighbour on the other side is widowed too; her husband was taken from her just a year ago this past week. He was a dear man and my chronological twin. I am here, and I want to ask why, but at times it feels like I am scattered to the wind. Love will find me, because love always finds. It only matters that I am, that I am here, that I am here, now.

I know now that am fading. It is not about me, of course it never was, but I no longer bargain with that. I will fade so slowly that it will not be noticed, except in the hearts of others who too will fade as they recall my fading after I am gone. There is only love, and it burns brighter in the solitude. It cannot return void, for the void is the love. Ah what fullness there is in loss. It goes out searching, like my wagtail, searching for what it finds, not in the finding, but in the searching. For so long in me it craved distraction, medication from the pain of life. Now it is a pool of tragedy and beauty and boredom and blessing, now it is an ocean of my parents and their parents and their parents and the dreams that are too big for a thousand lifetimes, but are held in one. Now, it is a home that holds more lives than I can number, or even comprehend. What a cavern is the heart, how it accumulates love as endless griefs!

The wagtail is back now. He works so hard to find a mate. He stands forlorn in the golden glow of the day’s last beams, blazing only hours ago. It is clear to me that he is a spirit guide who is sent. He stands so close to me now, almost within reach. He is the beauty than cannot be clutched, the life that cannot be held, the joy that is always passing yet always here. Listen to that song! So sharp and clear and flushed with piercing mastery, yet from one so fragile! One day soon, he will be rewarded and they will nest.

Beyond, the hills that stand guard on our eastern horizon fill with dark pools through the gullies and crevices, where the currawongs call and the lizards seek shelter for the night. White noise from a thousand cars spills over their peerless habitat, the unconscious drone of ignorant generations, unaware of the ancient holy ritual played out through millenia under a billion sighing eucalypts. And the afternoon grows long.