The peaceful memory of Lucy’ s support through spiritual practice and the heartening memory of finding this powerful, exactly right, quote in my email inbox now moves to the memory of noisy and unsettling construction that was going on next to us in Northern California when I learned about my sister’ s death in 2004. This memory forms the foundation of the final metaphor in the poem—moving earth to build a house, the house of our life.
and each of us grieves in our own way.
Bereft—shorn, torn open, last year.
Three gigantic earth-moving machines
on the property next door.
They growled and grumbled all day long
as they dug further and further into the side of the hill,
leaving a mountain of earth in their wake.
I felt they were digging a gigantic grave for Julia.
But no grave could ever hold her.
And, now, this year?
The house is for sale.
It’s butt ugly.
So, be careful of the house you build.
Julia’s house needed painting,
but was structurally sound.
As Dave, her husband, said,
“Hers was a gallant, hopeful, helpful, effective life.
The ripples from it reach astonishing numbers of people.
It seems reasonable to hope
that the ripples will continue onward
at which we can only guess.
But surely some of that is visible among you now.”
I still find myself alone
after the death of someone I love,
I still feel as if I have been given a new life
and am being asked:
What will I do with this life?
And why do I wish to continue living?
What of the house that I will build,