My walk today was short, a swim was longer, we went to the beach, a charming village, Les Anses d'Arlet on the Caribbean side of the island. From beside the sea, the church steeple rises into the blue. Its front doors, wide open at the tip of a pier, inviting one and all. The church bell tolls on the hour. Inside, the stained glassed and shuttered windows open as well, this one above, facing an old stone wall. A fresh, soft breeze blows through the sanctuary over the vacant wooden pews. I imagine being present at a service and the doors and windows and the breeze and the bell tolling, and the beauty of this kind of service. All one needs to do it sit, be present, awake, aware. The last time I was in a sanctuary where I was deeply present, deeply moved, it was my father's memorial service, it was Feburary, almost exactly two years ago today - but I wasn't thinking of him until now, writing this. But, of course, yes, I remember now, as I approached the church I had a thought spring from my unconscious - my father will only die once. I heard that thought in my own mind. This day, two years ago, we knew he was dying, it was a Tuesday, and we were gathered around his bed, we were with him until the next day when he was gone. I curled up beside him more than once, curled up and nestled near him, knowing he knew we were there. One thing I did, the next night, after he was truly gone, and we had to leave, and there was a curtain, pulled shut, and we were going to leave, but I grabbed the arms of my sisters and brothers and I pulled just the five of us inside the sanctuary, so we could be alone in silence with him, like a womb, it was the womb of our family, and I felt fierce and ferocious with love and attachment and gratitude and awe and grief. See, dad? See how you made us, and now we're here, and all you've done and all you've been and all we are because you gave us this life, this family? Oh, what a gaping hole of being together in that curtain, with, and without him. Yes, at his memorial service, in the sanctuary, I heard the bell tolling for him. His bell, his toll, his life.
All photos and text by Kelly DuMar, 2018, unless otherwise attributed