Our belovèd sister departed from us one week ago today. Seven days. That's seven times the sun arose so that we could roam this earth and see where we were headed, even though it's been hard to pull our chins from our chests to even look ahead. That's seven times the phthalo darkness fell upon us like a thick shroud under which we've wept together. So we're left to continue this long, arduous, beautiful search without her--this search through which her heart led her hands and her hands led her heart. She now knows all of the answers.
But I still don’t. So my fingers frantically fumble for any tools nearby because that’s what they know to do when things are unclear and unknown. We are the co-creators of resolve. We are the seekers who know that the work will faithfully reveal the answers to us. And sometimes, the answer is the path itself, and the good work leads us up to resting points where we can sit quietly with our breath. But at times, the chest expands far too wide with the Whys and the Hows and it's much too immense to contain. And the words get lost in this cavernous chamber. And these eyes were not made to see in the dark all of the time. But these hands were. So I extend my arms until my fingertips scrape up against some rough, grainy, perceived boundary so that I can feel where I am again.
I sit with heavy shoulders and a weakened spine that cradles these saturated lungs as I sip the savory tears caught between my lips. The birds squawk articulately. We know they mourn with us. They unfurl our sorrows toward the firmament, but I'm not sure why. Don't they know that a grief like this won't dissolve? But I must trust those birds. They know her well. They've watched her. And they're waiting for us to start singing again.
Clusters of words wrap hastily around loose sketches. Knotted thoughts. Entangled texts that will take order in some form, at some time, hopefully in this life. Emotions that have been given names that can't nearly encompass the density of what they truly are. Remembering the mourning doves who nested on our terrace last spring, whose fledglings realized the power in their wings and left us. I wish they would have stayed longer so that we could continue watching them grow and build. They still visit us from time to time.
Oh, Belle. I can still feel you here. Since your passing, your wings have been swinging freely from my ears. With every slight tug, they comfort me, and their weight sinks my heels a little deeper into earth wherein we so often found our balance. Or something close to balance. I waited for them to whisper verse to me. And they did.
These wings. And the birds that they carry. The grace of these birds, their reverence for the sun, their diligence in building and rebuilding majestic sanctuaries. From season to season, putting to use the splendid gifts that they have been granted as one of nature’s most brilliant architects. We have inherited this same proficiency. So we have striven to be like them—putting in that wholehearted work to construct this thing that will shelter our loved ones, one feather, one hair, one moss-smudged twig at a time. And like the swallows and the umber doves, we build it together. This thing that quickens our hearts. These things that keep our feet soaked in optimism… because what is more optimistic than believing that something can be made from a something that does not yet exist, and believing in that thing which brings them forth into the light so that we can see them and hold onto them? These things that help us shed the detritus of life from our souls. These things that help us mourn knowingly. Our life’s work-- to gather it all up, every crumb, and to reintroduce them with our hands and our mouths in ways that bring more meaning, light, and understanding to our grieving world.
You laughed easily and loved life fully. You revered your time here, keeping your soles, and your Soul, patinated with the precious minerals you found sprouting from damp soil. You honored the breathing, heaving world around you. And the earth returned its love for you as it latched onto your heels when you’d wander into her cathedrals that have been built with confident gesture and ever unfolding limbs, continually reaching for light. We’ve learned so much from them, haven’t we?
My hands remember your studio. The puddles of silver and her brethren and sistren hue. The gnarled stones that had travelled and travailed from all over the crust of earth to find their way into your soothing palms. The humming musings stamped upon your sun-drenched walls. The tools that aligned upright like soldiers awaiting assignment. The brushes smudged with the colors that helped tell the story of Life. The unfinished paintings that sat patiently for you because they understood your needing time to catch your breath. The meticulous watercolors that bled so willingly and effortlessly for you as you rendered with swift hands.
Seeing the fluidity of your hand in those intimate paintings encouraged me to reintroduce myself to the watercolors again. It had been months, maybe even years. It’s difficult to gauge time these days. It might have always been that way for us. (“I’ll just finish up this bird’s wing” easily led to gessoing a fresh canvas because the palette we’ve mixed for that single wing would, of course, need its own canvas.) But you have a different relationship with time now. Perhaps, now, it no longer exists. And I am so very excited about that for you.
There's so much I want to share with you. And I'll continue doing so. I promise.
Like, this word that has been wafting toward me consistently over the past week:
It’s been presenting itself in moments unexpected, and I've kept it pressed up against my sternum so that it can stand face to face with the heart to prepare for the search. I’ve purchased four gold pens and my stack of gold leaf eagerly sits on the corner of the drawing table.
Some things I've learned about gold: In its purest form, gold is dense and soft and malleable. Gold is a noble metal. It’s elemental symbol, Au, derives from the Latin word aurum, which means “shining dawn”, whose ancestor is the Proto-Indo-European*h₂é-h₂us-o-, meaning "glow". Oh, Belle, you are the shining dawn. Your light still glows in the things, in the moments, and in the people that you've left behind. We will keep these dense embers aflame in our bruised, softened hearts.
Oh, how I wish you would have stayed longer.
You came to me fleetingly in a dream last night, only long enough to declare your new name. Phi. (spelled Phi, rhymes with “free”.)
You wrote it down for me on a piece of paper and said it out loud so that I was sure to understand.
The Golden Ratio.
(Spelled Phi, rhymes with "fly". And "sigh". And "why". And "cry".)
Phi. The Fibonacci sequence. This proportion that appears in countless patterns in nature, reminding us that in her elegant imperfections, she is indeed perfect. This sequence that has been believed by artists to attend to that which is aesthetically pleasing. Some know it to be universal law. You will ever be a part of this ephemeral sequence that we here must still tread through.
Meet us in our dreams, Belle. Tell us the secrets of eternity. Tell us about these things you now know.
Hand in hand, we shall come forth as gold.
One more thing...
An excerpt from a poem by Mary Mackey:
love comes from years
skin to skin
tangled in each other’s dreams
until each night
weaves another thread
in the same web
of blood and sleep
and I have only
passed through you quickly
and you have only
surrounded me suddenly
I love you.
We love you.
Kelly Nichole Tripp Clark
Born on the morn of April 11, 1980
Passed on the morn of July 14, 2017
Kelly is survived by her warrior husband, Brad, who adored her deeply, her nurturing parents, Kathy and Jay, who fueled her curiosity for life and for all things living, her two beautiful sisters, Aubrey and Laurel, whom she loved dearly, her two pups, Sancho and Dagny, whose paws are just as grimy as were her own, and her tribe of warmhearted visionaries who walked alongside her on this colorful journey.