Finding Again What Is Always With Us: Archeological Treasures And The Collapsing Of Time

Friday, December 20th, 2019

My mother, April Schwartz, died two months ago. The journey of grief, release, and transformation is profound, and I want to share with you a personal story from a few weeks ago.

This morning, my daughter Cedar called me just five minutes after she left the house, weeping. My mind melted as I imagined what could have happened to her. She told me through her tears that the pendant Mom had given her dropped off her chain when she wasn’t noticing. Cedar came right back home and we looked all over the house–no luck–and then carefully retraced her steps out of the house, down the block. Cedar took the right side of the sidewalk, and I took the left, scanning back and forth in a tight arc, just three feet ahead of us.

It took me right back to when I scoured the Negev for archeological finds, 33 years ago. A line of seekers spread evenly across the desert, gazing down and forward.

My eyes watered. Must have been the cold. I was wearing only long johns under my coat. We went down the block. No luck. I started thinking about how I could placate my daughter in this moment and going forward. Should we replace it? Let it go? Minimize? Maximize? We turned the corner and continued looking. And then, “Found it!” Cedar bent down and picked up the pendant. There it was! Safe in her hands. Hers again. Cedar’s eyes shined bright and I told her how lucky she was. Lucky, lucky girl.

A blessing. Archeological treasure.

Cedar made her way to school, and I walked home, gazing up at the branches of the almost bare trees, into the sky, a few tears welling.

When I got inside, I collapsed on the rug. The too muchness of it all. This grief. It freezes the body. Tightens it. Makes it hurt. I breathed into my body, and our kitten nipped at it, too. I got up, made some breakfast, and sat down to scroll through photos on my phone, looking for Mom.

This one. The week of Cedar’s fifth grade graduation this past June. The sunflower. The lifeguard. The Grandmother.

With my mother’s death, I feel the collapsing and telescoping of time. The moments from my early childhood–sitting on her lap, having my hair brushed, my face being soothed while in fever–occupy the same space as the last week I spent with her–stroking her hand, helping her with socks, singing to her. And these moments commingle with all the others ones that occurred between my birth and her death, all the times of my going back home, her visiting me, and our traveling together.

Sometimes I can feel that death is not a vanishing, but a reentry into a different dimension, a reworking of relationship and time.

During dark, mysterious nights, when we’re not entirely sure if daylight will visit us again, may you savor your commingling moments, past, present, and future. Enjoy your tea, marvel at the greatest treasure of all–the fact of your beingness–and commune with the many other astonishing, beautiful mysteries in your life.

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