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On birthdays and other things

May 4th, 2010 (09:31 pm)

current mood: contemplative

I always make Rhonda feel REALLY great when I tell her that her birthday--May 4--is the day Jeff died in 1995. Because that's the kind of friend I am! In actuality, though that time was a dark one, only two years afterward, I met Rhonda online, and here we are thirteen years later, "in real life" friends, as they say, and part of a group of people who enjoy and cherish one another, most of whom I didn't know existed in 1995. Celebrating Rhonda's birthday while remembering Jeff reminds me what brilliant experiences and people may await me after bad times. No matter what happens, there's always hope that eventually, someone could make a Pixie Bear on craft night.

I'm assuming--and I hope I'm right, because I have no cake baked!--that Rhonda will be blowing out candles at The Compound while the Canadians are here. And that's SO SOON. I hope the jasmine is still blooming for y'all, because I was outside earlier inhaling the aroma. Awesome.

To show that hope really does spring eternal, I also planted some seeds in little pots and in one of the flower beds this morning. If something I planted from a seed actually grows, it'll be a miracle. Tim has much better luck at that than I ever have--his morning glories I thought were gone forever because of our freezes have come back to stick out their purple tongues at me.

One of the daisies Tim got for The Compound looked especially lovely today. I'm presenting it here as a gift to 'Nathan, because it's orange and for another reason I think he'll understand.

Today is also Star Wars day, which I only discovered last year, I think: May the fourth be with you. Once again, in regard to balance, this reminds me to laugh in spite of the other event that this date signifies: the Kent State shootings in 1970. In February of this year, the site where four students died and nine were wounded was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Usually this doesn't happen for more than fifty years after an event, but the application offered a compelling case for registering the site. One of the applicants, Kent State Professor Emeritus Jerry Lewis, was acting as a faculty marshall on that spring day in 1970. Today, Amanda provided a link to a radio interview with Dr. Lewis that was really good. Thank you for that, Amanda.

Among the things Dr. Lewis shared was an excerpt from an article written this year by Elaine Holstein. You probably don't recognize her name, but if you've ever read an article about Kent State, you've seen her son Jeff Miller in the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo taken of him that day; at age twenty, he lay dead on the ground with an anguished fourteen-year-old girl kneeling next to him, her arms outstretched.

I'd like to repeat the quote from Mrs. Holstein that Dr. Lewis shared:

...once in a while, I wonder about my son Jeff's future that had so needlessly been cut short.

What would he have been like now, at age 60? What sort of career would he have had? Would he have married? And what about those other grandchildren that my husband and I might have enjoyed?

Now, as I watch the news on TV each night, I deplore the increasing ugliness of politics, and I'm afraid. I know too well what can happen when hatred takes over.

Please, let us lower the volume and be civil toward one another.

For Jeff's sake. And for all of ours.

Every life has its celebrations and losses, its joys and heartbreaks. I believe each time we're willing to see that truth in the lives of others, even those from whom we feel different, we make civility more possible--and we nourish our own souls.

Rhonda, your date is a profound one--and this crazy world is better because you're in it. Happy birthday.


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