“When I die, I can breathe back the breath that made me live. I can give back to the world all that I didn’t do. All that I might have been and couldn’t be. All the choices I didn’t make. All the things I lost and spent and wasted. I can give them back to the world. To the lives that haven’t been lived yet. That will be my gift back to the world that gave me the life I did live, the love I loved, the breath I breathed.”Ursula K. Le Guin, The Other Wind
I write, have learned to write, these blogs for an intended audience. Now, that audience is no longer with us. A hemisphere away, a continent off, my maternal grandmother, Katherine James, passed away peacefully this week.
No matter where I was, or what I was doing, I knew that she was out there to listen to and encourage me. I can’t imagine the hurt my mother, my uncles, and aunt feel this week. Kathy was a wholly different person to them, she provided and sacrificed so much for them, and shaped their worlds. To me, she was my first peer. She taught and listened to and argued with me. She supported my dreams and my imagination and was always willing to humor my rambling. I saw her as my grandmother, but more-so my friend.
Young people will always regret their limited time with their elders, and I’m no exception. If I was smarter, or more future-sighted, or if things were different, I would have had a deeper, more important, more powerful relationship with her. Anyone who knew her would have. I would have known that you eventually lose grandmas, and I would’ve acted accordingly.
I learned of her passing, and I write this missive, from a room buried in the Atacama desert, waiting to observe the heavens. 9000 kilometers from her. Many lifetimes from her. The creeping realization that all I have left of her is the imprint, the intersection, of our lives, weighs particularly heavy. That those foggy memories of her visits, of my visits, are all that remain. The hill in La Grande, the trips to Powell’s books, the conversations at Christmas.
I only knew her as a grandmother, at which she excelled. I hope she knew how fantastic she was at it.
I took these photos of the Atacama sky to send to her. I suppose, since I’m still writing these blogs the way I always do, to my intended audience, I’ll leave them here.