Woke up in my own hometown this morning. Though it isn't what it once was, the general layout of the area hasn't changed much. My brother-in-law suggested I go up the long hill of Whippoorwill Road to the golf course for a view of the sunrise.
My sense of direction is nearly non-existant, but these roads are still burned into my memory. Though my mind was wandering, I knew instinctively when the turn was coming up on the winding, foliage-banked road. And there, I thought absently as I passed, is the turn to my best friend's house from grade school. There is the curve where I slid off the road in my parents' car...
When we were in high school, the 9th hole was where we used to go late at night to get a view of the skyline of New York City in the distance. Sometimes couples found it a place for a little romantic interlude. This morning was dreary and gray, no skyline, nothing much in the way of sunrise except a faint and fleeting pink, about 10 minutes before dawn. And besides - the sun rises over the first hole. We didn't get up at that hour much as teenagers.
Driving the roads at dawn did bring me back to one summer job I had for a while during college. I took on a paper route - about 60 miles' worth, all around the neighborhoods of semi-rural Bedford, New York. I picked up my papers at around 4am and got home by 7:30. Driving these roads in the pre-dawn light brought me instantly back to those mornings, especially when I saw a deer in someone's yard. Rabbits, deer, and all kinds of creatures came in and out of my headlights at that time of day - as surprised to see me as I was to see them.
Funerals are strange experiences. There is such grief and hurting all around, but at the same time there is this profound, enveloping sense of comfort in the presence of family and friends, many of whom you may not have seen for years. There are aunts and uncles and cousins - older ones a little more wrinkled, younger ones grown to full size, the whole cycle in process. And you have a heart connection to all of them, here in this place of remembering. It is a powerful reminder of the richness of the fabric of love.