It rained human bodies upon a field of sunflowers this week. Rockets replaced words in the Middle East as a means of communication…again.
Peace, it seems so rare in the news these days. So when we have the blessing of peace in our own lives we really need to take note, to be even more grateful.
We three brothers served in the military. One of us died a couple of decades ago, his name was Arthur, he was a Vietnam vet and he died of natural causes. My surviving brother, Rod, a vet too, has been in bad health of late but he does come to visit me here in Long Beach, NY.
When he came to visit on the 4th of July he had his portable oxygen with him for his breathing troubles as well as his little tri-legged portable stool. When we walked to the nearby beach entrance he needed to stop a couple of times, flip his stool open and sit down before we continued on.
As we approached the beach-pass attendant I dug out my passes and gave them to her to punch but from the look on her face I suspected she’d have let us pass without the pass. Rod wore his Vietnam era hat, I had on my signature, Marine emblazoned shirt. I said to Rod, “We look like the spirit of ’76 to her.” He puffed a “Yeah,” in agreement.
We sat at the ocean’s edge and enjoyed the show. The show being the diving terns and gliding gulls in the clearest, hurricane-scrubbed air to grace America’s shores. Sweet summer breathed a soft and cool ocean breeze upon us
Hurricane Arthur had just passed offshore during the night and I noted the coincidence in the storm having the name of my deceased brother.
As we sat and took in the splendor before us we chatted about life and yes, even death. Rod said he’s comfortable with the likelihood of his dying on a day not too far off. We both intend to be cremated and buried right in the very sea before us. That would be our final deployment. So I guess you could say we sat at the edge of our eternity this sunny Fourth of July we shared. I always felt the seashore was the edge of eternity.
I look at sea burial as a complete recycling of the skin and bones that have served me so well in life. I will be sustenance for the minnows and mullet, then maybe even the whales. Or I’ll become part of the shellfish, then the oystercatchers and maybe even the terns, and gulls as well. Yeah, someday a part of me will be part of the graceful gliding that goes on in those blue skies.
We sat and spoke about this Earth, this universe, this life. We both had our regrets but cherished moments too. Life it is all a wonder, a roller coaster of ups and downs. Just like the cumulonimbus clouds that rose and fell in the remaining bands of hurricane Arthur to the West. The remnants were a huge bank over New York City but straight up and on to the East there was just field of endless blue. A magnificent, peaceful 4th of July indeed.
Then Rod said, “Hey, that cloud wasn’t there before,” as he pointed straight above us. “Sure wasn’t.” I said. Only blue slate had been there seconds ago. Then he said, “Now it’s disappearing again.” And it surely was. We kept watch on the sky straight above us and several times a cloud would materialize in literal thin air, then vaporize right before our eyes. They were small clouds at first but then one huge one materialized and then slowly, very slowly disintegrated.
Neither of us had ever witnessed such an event before. I guessed we were on a border of a meteorological phenomenon. A confluence of circumstances: Masses of humid and very dry air were apparently adjacent. When one connected with the other in the right way a cloud was either born or recycled into the ether above us. I said to Rod, “You know, eons ago this would have been interpreted as someone messaging from beyond.” But we knew better than that of course.
We sat and enjoyed the peaceful show, the curling surf, the tall-ship clouds sailing over Manhattan to the West, the sounds of laughter over plastic pails.
A few days later the city of Long Beach held it’s fireworks display, the annual American commemoration of rocket’s red glare in our colonial skies. But this Long Beach night too was a confluence of events.
The moon was rising red and full in the East, the fireworks hot and exhilarating in the West. Kids and parents walked at the edge of the universe under the rising of that wondrous red-glare moon, under the celebration of freedom in America.
God bless America.