Blessedness

M A Y   2 0 1 5

I went to visit you before you died, do you remember? I came to your little cottage for breakfast and then we spent the day together. I brought croissants and orange juice. You made that delicious coffee. I remember how sunlight — blessed sunlight! — slanted through the window and spread across the breakfast table like a benediction. We knew you were dying, that the cancer was taking you fast, but you still had your plan to beat it with some kind of wavelength machine you had ordered. It hadn’t come yet.

bridgeOur glasses of orange juice were golden in the sun. The croissants left little crumbs on our plates. All the trivial details that day felt important. You went into the back room, rummaging around and brought out a fur hat you said was your favorite. “Here,” you said, “I want you to have this.”

We took a long drive through the countryside and got lost twice. Do you remember that little stone bridge we stopped at? We spoke about the method they must have used to build its arch, a century or so in the past. We sat on the bank near it and tossed little twigs into the water as we talked.

I told you my vision about light and you really understood it. Not many people got it so quickly. Now that you’re dead — what an odd word! — you probably understand it better than I do. I pointed out how light rays (or waves, or whatever they are) obviously go in all directions because when we move our heads from here to here there’s no interruption of the light rays coming from, for example, a little white pebble at the water’s edge. And what was equally amazing — all the light rays from all the things we could see were passing through each other without bumping into any other light ray. The whole place was dense with constant light! You looked down at your hands and your clothes and said, “Look! I’m that way too!”

Then we speculated about the universe, how the light from all the stars was going in all directions all at once too, so that even as the earth zooms in its orbit around the sun we still can look up and see uninterrupted light from each single star — now from here and now from here, fifty miles away from where our eyes were a moment ago.

I remember that moment. You looked at me and said, “That means the whole universe is not dark at all, or even empty — it’s filled with light, everywhere! It’s solid light!” We were quiet then, taking that in.

That was when it happened, that sense we had of perfect meeting. Up to then we had been good friends, of course, but this was different. It was like suddenly we weren’t there as two people, you and I, but as one “Here” without form, transparent to ourselves. There was a sense of clearness right through us and right through everything, and yet the patterns on the water, and the shapes of the bridge, and the trees, and our bodies were all still there, specific and vibrant.

We looked at each other again and I saw the tears on your cheeks. It was unbearable, how that moment hurt. After another long silence watching the sun wavering in the water, I said to you these lines from Kerouac:

There is a blessedness surely to be believed, and that is that
everything abides in eternal ecstasy, now and forever.

You didn’t say anything back. We helped each other up and walked back to the car in the sun. And then when I started the car you looked over and asked, “Where shall we go?” We both smiled a little, I think, and then I remember we leaned toward each other, restricted by our seat belts, and bonked foreheads. Thanks for that day, thanks.