…as the Ferris wheel was being taken apart and the race horses were being loaded into vans and entertainers were packing up their belongings and driving away
in their trailers, Charlotte died. The Fair Grounds were soon deserted. The sheds
and buildings were empty and forlorn…Nobody, of the hundreds of people that had visited the Fair, knew that a grey spider had played the most important part of all. No one was with her when she died.
All week, wherever I turn, my grandmother is there.
In the final chapters of Charlotte’s Web, excerpted above, which I read aloud, slowly, gradually, over time, to my little boy Shaya. In the reporting for a client story on older adults accompanying a thirtysomething social worker to try on bridal gowns, as if her own grandmothers could be here for this momentous occasion.
In the quiet at night. While I made gluten-free apple pancakes this morning for my children. In the offers on our house. In the silence before I rise from bed, in the still-dark morning, knowing day is dawning even if I can’t quite see it.
I’m sure I read this book years ago – decades earlier in fact – when I was young. I don’t remember it at all. It was as if this is the first time I am seeing these words, and they are beautiful.
We are alone when we transition from this life to the next, even if loved ones are by our side. It is a solitary journey, just like the one we make into this world, and really we have the illusion of not journeying alone throughout life but it is just an illusion.
All of our turmoil and worry emanate from trying to escape the aloneness. We can’t, you know. We are eternally alone, and if we can put all the heart and soul possible into accepting that, we will be so much better off.
And we won’t feel despair about being alone. We will just accept it as routine and normal and the way life is and love it for what it presents instead of wishing reality into something entirely different.
Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both.
We are each so many wonderful things. The list is long and detailed. We are singularly exceptional in a world of ordinary souls. Together, we make beautiful music. Community. Something inspiring.
Alone, we spin stories in our heads like an eternal spider web and like that analogy, the stories are strong, catching us up in fear and paralysis as if we can’t really break free.
Except it is ourselves from which to break free.
Today has been a lovely day. I made the lunches, woke the kids, hugged each one very well and made those pancakes by Shaya’s request. Everyone enjoyed them.
I even did the dishes and dried them to put away just in case another potential buyer came through the house while we were gone.
I spent the morning in a cafe with a new client and a long-time client, talking and planning and taking notes and sending emails and enjoying the interaction with wonderful inspiring people.
I went to yoga with my assistant, a friend, a client-friend and let go of whatever was holding me down, that I brought on myself. And then I returned to the familiar desk to write these words and in a few minutes, teach a virtual class and eventually, hug my husband who’s been gone all week.
Tonight it’s a bar mitzvah celebration for a friend’s son.
All in good time, life unfolds and shares its brilliance, without my help. And without yours.
The minute I let go, beautiful things happen. As long as I hold tightly, things elbow their way into difficulty.
It’s the way of the world. It’s the path of life.
To not think and plan and worry and agonize and control, control, control – that is the supreme challenge.
Think it’s possible? Try, just for a morning, tomorrow even, to let it all go and let the universe take the control that it already has. Give in to what is real. Throw out what is not.
Imagine how far you can fly.