travel as equals

i drove old familiar roads today to attend a celebration,
a memorial,
for a beautiful woman
with mischievous eyes.

not bound by walls or coffins or concrete crosses
this honoring, this grieving,
was happening among the trees
and their changing leaves
and the beauty of mid-september skies.

i knew the route to the forest like the back of my hand,
my mind barely aware of the landscape,
the landmarks,
as my car rambled by.

i was thinking about lives lived, lessons learned.
i was trying to put my finger on the words
that could explain what remains
after her passing.
what it is she leaves behind
in me.

those sorts of words don’t easily come.
i search for them anyway.

my friend was a woman who didn’t travel light in heart in this world.
her story was not simple nor easy to share.
but her laugh was contagious
and her perseverance relentless
and i think it would be safe to say
that her footsteps got lighter the longer she walked.
i don’t know if she would claim
that the journey got any easier,
but i do think she could write you poems
about the beauty she was learning to see along the way.

and i know that she knew
that she wasn’t travelling through life
alone.

in the afternoon light,
with black eyed susans and burning tobacco,
we brought our still-living bones
to gather together
to tell stories
to whisper prayers…pleads…blessings

to express our gratitude.

for so much.
for the way we are changed when we let ourselves walk close enough to someone else.
for the way a heart, even (especially?) a broken one, can be a vehicle for so much blessing,
so much light.

i don’t know, at the end of it all, if there is anything more that i aspire to,
anything greater that i could hope for,
then to have a community gather under autumn leaves
and say
we are better for having known you.
we are thankful for your life.

thank you, dear girl, for living your story with such courage, generosity, and humility.
you are already missed.

[ on my drive home, with the sun dropping lower in the sky, this song came on the radio. i had never heard it before today, but it seemed strangely fitting. If there is one thing that my beautiful friend and her gracious community have taught me, it’s that “the only way we can survive, [is to] travel as equals or not at all”. ]

Words + Photos + Credit

Unless otherwise noted, all original photography and text are property of Raechelle Kennedy. If you see or read something here and feel inspired to share it somehow, please be considerate and give the artist (me!) credit, or even better, drop me a note and make sure I don’t mind.
Thank you!

Here + There

Secondhand Sainthood and the gift of losing it all – Topology Magazine, December 2015

Ten Things Made – Topology Magazine, December 2015

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