During my freshman year of high school, we read Dandelion Wine. I don’t remember the book very well, but I remember in the beginning, Douglas, the 12-yr old protagonist, has this revelation that he is alive. It’s this liberating, illuminating experience, and it almost takes him off-guard. He doesn’t really understand this feeling of life. In the middle/end of the book, Douglas discovers the temporary nature of objects when things start breaking down, and he also disovers the frailty of existence when people go away and/or die. He thus experiences the reality of death. So this book has always reminded me of this duality between recognizing and feeling alive with experiencing and awknowledging death.
This Christmas was sort of like that for me. I mean, the holiday itself is dual in nature: a celebration of Christ’s birth and of life and light into the world (obviously the religious aspect of the holiday) with the awknowlegement that Christ’s birth is so important because of the death he would eventually die.
This Christmas season, I was having this Dougles-esque experience of I’m alive! For the first time in a while, I found myself excited by the potential of the future. Things like the sunsets I saw every night and the eclipse I couldn’t really see because of the clouds and having coffee with friends I haven’t seen in a while were entirely thrilling to me. I was looking forward to reading and writing and playing tennis and doing yoga and pilates and meditating and spending time with family and getting myself into a better place than I was before.
Two days before Christmas, one of the nicest, most awesome people in Roswell passed away. He was known nationwide by the tourists who, finding the whole “alien” thing disappointing, stopped into the local winery and met the charming personality who was Dale. The reviews on Tripadvisor.com rave not about any of the sites in Roswell (totally understandable), but about Dale. He was one of the warmest, friendliest people I knew and I looked forward to getting a glass of wine just in order to say hi to him. Within our community, he was widely known and loved and he will be greatly missed.
The past couple days I’ve faced moments that make me think more deeply about what it means to live and die, and how a single life can impact so many others’ that it didn’t even realize were connected to it. What brings life into this world? Why do we keep living? What do we remember after life has ended? I think the answer to them all, in some way or another, always comes back to love.
I hope you all had a Merry Christmas.
May you rest in peace, Dale.