See Like Celeste

“The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story and writes another, and his humblest hour is when he compares the volume as it is with what he vowed to make it.” James Barrie

Celeste died last week. Megan gave birth to her first child, a daughter. Stephen graduated from high school. Sally had a life changing epiphany. Dado brought the mail as he does each weekday; you can set your clock to Dado yet he always seems to have plenty of time to talk. Bruce came to visit after a seven-year absence. Tess had her teeth pulled and then had a birthday. Lora sold her first photograph in a gallery. And then her second and her third. Amy shared her poems and also shared a dream. Pete made a collage and had it printed; he’s making a portfolio, his first. Harald and I each drank a Stone and later split an Arrogant Bastard. And that was before dinner. Lisa took a vacation, a trip with her son. She will marry Harry in July. Don walked to the bank on the first sunny day of the season. Arnie returned from travels abroad and left a message on the machine. Dane had a conversation with his friend Brian, a mechanic. They have rules about what they can talk about: no politics, no religion, no talking about wives. Tania and Chan bought their first house. Kate sent a hilarious limerick. Lorilee shared photos of her green wall. Gwyn wept. Rosemary and Lona sent poems for the tribute Judy was assembling. Carol resurfaced. Scott asked for advice. Mark prepared his ship for Alaska (seriously) after he went to drawing class. Makaela wore a dress to the opening of the museum she helped create. Patti wrote an obituary, prepared a eulogy, and helped Nina live more comfortably – all in a single day. Joe walked by the tide pools and laughed with delight. Stephen (another Stephen) rolled his paintings out for us to see; he had fire in his eyes. Nicole brought chocolate and shared it! Ana went home and faced her demons. They were not as big as she remembered. Theresa knew what coffee to make before I even ordered it. Made brought popsicles and comfort. Class met and embodied a purpose. Sue offered her thoughts. Kendy asked for prayers for Max. Max had surgery on his heart. We bumped into Diane in the hospital, to our great delight as we’d lost touch with her. Kathleen is off-loading the stuff of her life. Her sister came to help. Liz has a new garden. Duncan drank really good coffee and watched his first episode of LOST. Joyce interviewed Alan and is looking for others to interview. John is designing and building furniture for a restaurant because he’s never done it before. Beau catered a meal for 300. Margaret got lost in her thoughts. Ken sent his congratulations.

I could go on and on and on. This list barely touches the marvels of this week.

Celeste died quite suddenly. She was 82. Because she was so alive her death at age 82 came as a shock. She taught me that James Barrie had it all wrong. I think she would have rewritten his quote this way:

“The life of every person is a diary in which we mean to write one story and write another. Our humblest hour is when we realize the story we meant to write is not nearly as interesting as the story we actually lived, if only we had the eyes to see it.”

Celeste had the eyes to see it; she savored it – each and every moment. If you had met her, you’d have found yourself savoring a bit of life, too. Her enthusiasm and present-focus was infectious. Like me you’d be making a list of all the little moments and the big that happen each week in your life, a practice to remind yourself that the value of your life is not in the Academy Award that you may never win, it is in the relationships that that you probably discount; it is in the present moment that you miss because you are flailing yourself for not being something or somewhere else.

In response to my question, “What do you bring?” this is how Celeste replied:

“I bring a willingness to be open to whatever excitement is waiting!  I look into the eyes of each person I see, and have my arms ready if a hug is appropriate.”

Yes. That’s it.

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