Sometimes “once” just isn’t enough.
Last fall, during a socially distanced writing retreat in Oakwood Lakes State Park, my friend Ruby and I took a short night hike around a wooded peninsula. Without flashlights. Without even a sliver of moon to see by.
This past week, as the leaves began to turn red and gold once again, Ruby and I met up for another writing retreat. This time we camped beside a slough, or big pond, in Lake Herman State Park.
Once, returning from a trip abroad, Jihong brought me the gift of a Russian matryoshka set. At first glance, all you see is a wooden doll, around 7” high. It’s painted to resemble a happy peasant woman, with a city scene on her plump belly.
However, if you lift away the top half of the doll, you find a smaller matryoshka hidden inside—the peasant woman’s daughter. Open that second doll, and you find an even smaller daughter. And then another daughter. Finally, at the center, you come to a baby.
Air-sucker. Heart-breaker. Life-wrecker.
Don’t take it personally, Grief, but under our breath, or deep down inside, we sometimes call you such names. We have as many names for you as for the fallen of 9/11. As for the pandemic dead. As for the people vanished in floods and wildfires. As for our cherished life partners, gone too soon. As for our precious children, ending their lives by suicide ….