Our hearts are full with love and loss this weekend. In Minnesota we are heavy with the lush beauty of a long-awaited Spring. Yet, our evening barbecue with friends will be preceded by a visit to Resurrection Cemetery.
We don’t get to live long before we know the loss of loved ones. I have lost five of nine siblings in addition to my parents. We are of that generation which now attends many more funerals than weddings — we find they are increasingly for our contemporaries. Still, we have come to that unexpected vista where we recognize grief but equally cherish love and a life well lived.
Among the many losses, the one I hold closest to my heart this Memorial Day is that of Visitation Sister Peronne Marie Tibert, VHM. Peronne was my Elizabeth – that elder wise woman I would run to in moments of exhilaration and brokenness. We consistently shared such intimacy with poetry and over tea. Our common passion for gardening and bread baking waned as we aged.
Peronne died in September twelve days after marking her 90th birthday. In our last conversation on her birthday she said, “It’s time!”
In her memory, and remembering the many we have loved and lost, I share a sonnet Peronne wrote in 1959:
I shall remember gentle April rain
When only crumbling dust is to be found;
I shall remember fields of sun-filled grain
When hallow husks lie scattered on the ground;
When storms shall rage against the rocks I’ll hear
The lapping of soft waves upon the strand;
When stinging winds shall break the bough and sear
I’ll blow a milkweed seed across my hand.
No shrieking hawk will still the skylark’s song
Nor blot the memory of the bluebird’s wing,
For even when all loveliness is gone
I shall recall each tender, trembling thing.
Today I enfold love within my heart
To keep against the day when we must part.