Wednesday, September 19 — Connie de Biase, her birthday month, 19 months after we buried her
I found myself writing a paragraph contemplation of Connie on her first birthday since leaving us. Now, one birthday later, Connie infuses my imagination; I still love her last year’s contemplation/celebration.
Connie in our 4 decades of kinship partnered with me in our mutual commitment to noticing. When I miss her most is on Saturday mornings when I am home and able to Sabbath the day, especially driving into center city to buy community bread. I used to call her while driving back home with fresh food in two bags in the back seat and we would talk about the condition of our inner lives. Our last year or more were more brave and sad as Connie recognized her growing diminishment and her grief at losing the life in Madison that she loved and lived so gracefully. Talking with her was part of that inner movement, Ignatius calls these “inner disturbances” and counsels a habit of paying attention to them whether consolations or desolations. Noticing.
originally posted January 23, 2017
Perhaps this Denise Levertov poem came to mind because I flew into JFK Saturday, braved Long Island’s expressways with their too tight turns matched by slightly-too-narrow lanes, to spend time with a lifelong soul friend, Sr. Consuela de Biase, csj. Connie has become frail, like the ancient poet in today’s poem. She misses nothing, I realized, but you have to lean in close to hear; worn with fatigue, she whispers, and pauses to breathe. We visited three times (c. 90 minutes, 25 minutes, and 4 or 5 when we said goodbye before I headed back to JFK early Sunday). I love it that the 40 mile drive on the parkway was wearing; it reminds me that those miles and our 3 conversations are of a piece with decades of mutual listening, the fabric of Connie’s life.
In today’s poem Denise Levertov writes of an ancient poet whose frail strengths remind me of Connie. This beautiful early autumn day might tempt you to open your window or step outside so you can read “In Love” bathed in beauty, breathing a little too.
Have a blest day,
Today’s Post “In Love”
Over gin and tonic (an unusual treat) the ancient poet
haltingly — not because mind and memory
falter, but because language, now,
weary from so many years
of intense partnership,
comes stiffly to her summons,
with unsure footing —
recounts, for the first time in my hearing, each step
of that graceful sarabande, her husband’s
last days, last minutes, fifteen years ago.
She files her belongings freestyle, jumbled
in plastic bags — poems, old letters, ribbons,
old socks, an empty picture frame;
but keeps her fifty years of marriage wrapped, flawless,
in something we sense and almost see —
diaphanous as those saris one can pass through a wedding ring.
Denise Levertov 1923 – 1997
Connie laughing, smiling, contemplative August 2006