Learning to lift the veil.

Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way.

But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down again. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to. Some people learn to lift the veil themselves. They they don’t have to depend on the wind anymore.

— Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me

While living in Pennsylvania, I had the good fortune to meet and befriend an amazing group of poets. One of them in particular had mastered the art of lifting the veil. Every time we talked, you’d get a little taste of what it was like, got a little better (braver) at lifting your own. She passed away in February. I wasn’t able to be with her that night because I was chaperoning a homeschoolers dance. I wish I could have taken a picture of what the sky looked like that night: a dense and beautiful fog had settled over everything, lighting up the snow covered fields. It was probably the most beautiful winter night I’d ever seen in Pennsylvania. But I was rushing that night, and didn’t stop to snap a picture. So, I’ll settle for this shot instead:

This is what the sky looked like as I drove home from her memorial poetry reading later that spring. And for once I took the time to stop the car and snap the picture.

And just now, while I was typing this out, the sun came out for just a few moments, brightening up my office, laying a swatch of warmth across my desk, after I don’t know how many days of dark and gloom. Like she knows I’m thinking about her, and knows how much I wish I could sit with her just one more time, and watch as she lifts her veil, showing me just how easy it is.


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