January snow blankets this small mountain town and the rest of the Swannanoa Valley, and I climb the rickety pull-down attic steps, grab a small cardboard box, set it on the floor in the bedroom. Pulling out an unfamiliar pair of leopard-like gloves, a red scarf, and then a multicolored hat, I realize these are Corey’s winter things which I neatly separated last summer on my last visit to the Northern California town she left behind.
Pressing the hat to my face, I inhale her scent. One doesn’t forget the smell of your own child. The accident—the split-second it took for her four-wheeler to slide off a fifteen-foot slope and flip on top of her—was two and a half years ago but the trouble is, she is not dead to me. She is a constant presence in my thoughts, upon my skin, and in the center of my belly, not unlike when I was pregnant. The life is there, inside me, and contact with this being requires a specific kind of listening.
There are qualities worth striving for, subtleties worthy of developing, no matter how long it takes. As Clifton Fadiman wrote in the introduction to M.K. Fisher’s “The Art of Eating,” “The ability to enjoy eating, like the ability to enjoy any fine art, is not a matter of inborn talent alone, but of training, memory and comparison. Time works for the palate faithfully and fee-lessly.”
I believe it is possible that the dearly departed, or as Rudolf Steiner has called them, the so-called dead, are, in fact, present. Present in a way that, in order for us to sense them, we must train our minds to relax into the open spaces, like purposefully stopping for some minutes to stare at the moon for no reason at all other than to witness. What might the moon, this celestial being, be saying as it faithfully turns in space around our little green planet?