1 year ago today: Cecily Adams
(written on March 3, 2005)
year. Twelve months. Fifty-two weeks. Three hundred sixty-five
Eight thousand seven hundred sixty hours. Five hundred twenty thousand six
hundred minutes. Thirty-one million five hundred thirty-six thousand
seconds. Six hundred forty-one million two hundred thirty-two thousand
beats of a hummingbird's wings in flight.
however infinitesimal the number, each in its way aptly
describes her absence. Yet no number is large enough to capture the loss.
None is sufficiently small to be fewer than the moments of pure joy I have
known without her. They roll about like ants' eyeballs in the Grand Canyon
of this year. It seems impossible that an entire year can have passed since
8:05 a.m. on 2004's March 3rd. It feels so fresh a wound, so gaping and
unhealed, that a week cannot have passed, hardly a day. Yet it is a year.
Simultaneous with the impossibility of it having been that long is the sense
that no period so brief as a mere year could conceivably contain the grief,
the pain, the unspeakable despair, the broken-heartedness of this range of
eons since she died. And so it is as yesterday while seeming too as though
it must surely have been centuries ago. What but centuries could hold such
a volume of feeling?
Bierce, that splendid cynic, defined a year as "a period of three
hundred sixty-five disappointments." As dearly as I hold Bitter Bierce, I
cannot share that definition for this particular year. I've known no
disappointments since that utter disjuncture of the universe one year ago
today. Oh, perhaps the roof leaked a bit or a car battery died or some
professional recognition or other failed to skitter my way. But
disappointment is a term, to my mind, that is redolent of failed hopes,
dreams, or expectations. The hopes and dreams I had left after Cecily died
were few, but they have not failed. And the expectations I might have
conjured have been outstripped by reality. I've learned that the price of
devastating loss includes perplexity over how to be grateful for the good
wonders that follow upon that loss. So many graces have come my way in this
year that would never ever have revealed themselves to me had I not lost the
girl of my dreams. Kindnesses, excellences, camaraderie, patience, wealth
of friendship and love the depths of which would not have been imaginable to
me -- all fell at my feet in consequence of losing Her. And so I have
learned. I learned things I would never have paid this price to learn, yet
would not want to continue a moment longer not knowing. Many years ago,
something lodged in my mind, something I've never been able to shake and, in
fact, something I've cultivated to my utmost power, in myself and already in
my daughter. That something was that learning was the crux of life. All
else hinged thereon. This past year has been the best learning year of my
And thus, I am
reminded of what T.H. White wrote for Merlin to speak in "The
Sword and the Stone:" "The best thing for being sad is to learn something.
That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in
your anatomies, you may lie awake at night listening to the disorder of your
veins, you may miss your only love, you may see the world about you
devastated by evil lunatics, or know your honour trampled in the sewers of
baser minds. There is only one thing for it then -- to learn. Learn why the
world wags and what wags it. That is the only thing which the mind can never
exhaust, never alienate, never be tortured by, never fear or distrust, and
never dream of regretting."
has been gone from this world one year. She has not been
gone one solitary flit of a hummingbird's wing from my heart, from the heart
of her beautiful three-and-a-half year-old creation Madeline Rose, nor from
the hearts of many thousands who knew her or knew of her and treasured her.
Jim Beaver, March 3, 2005