One Year On

Fog partially conceals trees in the distance, coloring the space between them with an atmosphere of light blue-grey. Looking skyward, I see that the fog is low. Filtered sunlight through the cloud cover is strong enough to make the blue sky above the clouds barely visible. The weather app on my phone reports the dew point: 50°F. The temperature, according to an app on my computer: 51°F. That explains the dampness I sense on everything within my view that is the still-life outside my windows. Outside, there is not even a breath of breeze. I could be looking at an image captured by a camera. No motion. None. Utter stillness. From the looks of it, the day could be in mourning. The view suggests solemn images of meticulously staged graveyard scenes in movies. Everything about those scenes—and this one—seems designed to evoke disconsolate loss. But Nature is not sentient; one’s mental setting is molded by one’s state of mind.

The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.

~ Marcus Aurelius ~


One year ago today, shortly after midnight, my brother who was closest in age to me of my other siblings died. He had been hospitalized for several weeks and had undergone all manner of medical procedures that he, and the rest of us, hoped would ease his pain, improve his quality of life, and prolong his life. But a planned surgical procedure he had hoped and believed would accomplish all of that was cancelled by doctors who determined it would likely fail and would take his life in the process. Just a short while—only hours or less—after he had been transferred from a hospital to an in-patient hospice facility, he died. His death was not a surprise, but it was a jolt, nonetheless. He and I were not especially close—and the strength of our relationship had ebbed and flowed most of our lives—yet I think of him frequently, as I did while he was alive. Sometimes, my thoughts are mired in guilt because I recall times when our conversations were mutually unkind. Sometimes, my memories are more gentle and pleasant when I think of times when our brotherly love was both apparent and mutually valued. Mortality. It is irrevocable.


My dissatisfaction with the writing component of my morning routine continues, though it travels over hills and through valleys. This morning, I arose much later than normal; I got out of bed around 7, after a night of fitful sleep. I blame the damned bipap machine, or at least its cumbersome mask, for my inability to remain in a deep sleep for long last night. Maybe the machine is similarly responsible for my displeasure about my efforts to write. Ach, it’s probably just a temporary phase that will slip into history in short order. In the interim, I will silently complain. But is a complaint silent when, without vocalizing it, it is broadcast worldwide through the internet? A question worthy of consideration, if not one that has any intrinsic value. Enough of this. I will now attempt to get on with this grey day.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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