It was dark when I got up this morning, and the ground outside was frozen. Death is much on my mind. The sadness of it. And the wonder of it. As we plan for our mother’s service and burial, I remember our second child, who was born 34 years ago today and lived only three days. My mother, who was not born to grow old, lived for 90 years, almost all of them filled with a zest for living. I have never known life without her. My daughter I barely knew. She lies in a Quaker graveyard overlooking the peaceful hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania, in a plot she shares with her maternal grandmother, who died too young at 62, and grandfather, who lived fully for two more decades; her cousin Dallas, who died suddenly at three months and whose parents I first met at her graveside service; and, in unmarked graves, Leonid Berman, the painter who fled the Russian Revolution and survived the Holocaust in rural France, and his wife, the harpsichordist Sylvia Marlowe.
It’s an eclectic community, so resonant of life’s caprices. For reasons I don’t really understand, I feel connected to all of them, as much now as when they were alive. I wonder where they have gone and why some of their lives were cut so short, while others survived wars and shipwrecks.
The daylight has come, and the ground will thaw. But I still wonder why, with all the sadness death brings, we inflict it so wantonly.