The billowing clouds are a palette of grays kissing the tops of the mountains. It looks like they’re breathing when they move over the top of trees and cast swathes of shadows to the forests below. It’s a dance of light and shadow. Occasionally, the sun breaks through, lighting up patches of dull gold, orange, and rust of trees that continue to hang onto their leaves fiercely. The rest of the mountains are a carpet of gray, taupe, and varying shades of brown.
As we drive along the banks of the Susquehanna River, stray leaves flutter against the windshield like colorful snow flurries. They buffet and dance in the slightest of winds and eddy in pools of color and neutral and crunchy tans and browns.
This is a stark beauty. It matches our melancholy mood as we travel to central Pennsylvania to say goodbye to an aging relation. The stark beauty drills through some of the numbness we cloaked ourselves in to barricade ourselves from the knowledge and responsibilities of impending death. We try to insulate ourselves from death, but that’s not possible.
So, we try to turn our dour thoughts into more positive actions. We work to celebrate a long life lived. Despite actions during life, whether good or bad, in the end, there’s not much choice. Life ends. So, we choose to think of better times. We share memories and laughter. We marvel at remembrances of stories told.
Death brings stark beauty to an aging face with skin stretched tightly over bone. Hair strewn in disarray is the same palette of grays as the clouds breathing on the mountaintops. It’s starkly beautiful.
Here’s wishing our family member smooth sailing over the mountaintops and along with the clouds as they transition from life to an unknown journey.