Monday, June 16, 2014
June 16, 2014
I didn't know her well, or at all, really. Her ex-husband is our neighbor & our friend, & together they raised four incredibly capable & self-possessed boys out in the bush, up-river from Ambler, in a sod home of their own construction. They have lived a version of a life's dream very close to the one we are pursuing, & they have done so humbly & deliberately & in a manner deserving more respect than I am capable of articulating. I have thought of them, in their separate spheres, as heroes of mine for that very reason. & when I met her, she had such a rootedness, a grounded kind of radiance that made her seem conduit of something you couldn't see but that the earth could. She had a strength that was unlike that of any other, a kind of knowing derived from purposive living, maybe.
& so when she was struck & killed by a drunk driver in a hit & run while riding her bicycle to work on a back street of Healy last week, our collective hearts sank. One decision by one man, one act of unthinkable cowardice & an entire town was left shattered & disconsolate, if only in imagining what that news sounds like to her sons, to her dear friend & ex-husband. It happened right here, to one that we all know & admire, in between two stop signs that don't span two hundred yards. & in the search for Reason, the search for how to bridge our sympathies, the hope that we can declare to that family that we are here, ready to help in any way possible, there is such an element of the ineffable violation of something sacrosanct. People that raised children away from machines & alcohol & towns, people who brought the kids in so they could have educations, & this, cruelest of any irony, is what happens.
I think, beyond the obvious, that that's a part of why it overwhelms us so completely. This is a dream driven by purity & honesty & it doesn't have room for this kind thing. & since they lived the dream that so many of us here pursue to some degree or another, it feels like the sanctity of our own dreaming is reft from us. I feel it writhing in me, that insidious thing.
& so our neighbors came together time & again this weekend to let our perlexed grief find harmony in one another's company. The day that she died, as the midnight sun paled & cast a washed out roseate glow over the far ridge, our dog gave birth to three puppies. To hear the sound of their new life against the backdrop of the voices of our friends consoling one another, the songs of the thrushes, the mild chuffs & yips of the dog yard-- it was its own sort of magical. There in starkest contrast, proof that a dream is borne along in what it inspires, in how it is felt & taken up & assumed, in the smallest, barely audible cry of the newborn pup anxious to open its eyes upon a world that remains achingly beautiful in spite of every rupture, every human failing, & every fallen tear.