Thursday, November 12, 2009


Five years ago tonight, a self-described Christian missionary ran my sister off the road, and a few hours later she was dead.

A couple of months ago I finally tore up the letter in which he explained that God's will can be incomprehensible.

I get angry when people try to explain the incomprehensible.

So I am going to sit here and eat an apple that came from the same place she now rests, and will rest.

The apple's existence is inexplicable, as is that of the bee that fertilized it. The stuff of apples, an impossible blend of what we breathe out every few seconds, water and carbon dioxide joined by the energy of the sun, cannot be explained.

Don't try. Especially when I am eating one.

She was close enough to the orchard that it is possible still that some of the molecules of her last few breaths were captured by the same tree that bore this apple I am eating. Her last breath might rest in the amygdalin I taste when I chew on the seeds, a bitter sweet dance with traces of cyanide.

No, I don't understand why apples happen, nor do I think anyone else understands, either. So don't bother me when I sit there munching away on the core.

This whole business of living is, like apples, incomprehensible.

I know I like apples, though. And life. And Mary Beth did, too. No sense wasting time pondering what you cannot know.

That time's better spent enjoying the apple for what it is, whatever that "what" is. It won't be here forever. And neither will you.


paul c said...

My sincere condolences. This is a powerful tribute to the memory of a beloved sister.

You express very well the struggles many face when dealing with the conventional expressions of those with 'faith', who try to put events like these into perspective.

Kate said...

Again I am moved by your memories of Mary Beth; the world is a better place because she was here.

I wish I could have known her, but I am thankful every day that I have come to know a bit about her brother.

Kathryn J said...

I'm glad the letter is gone - there was nothing there worth the paper it was written on. Everything you have written about your wonderful sister is filled with love and your meditation while eating an apple is no exception.

Thinking of you and her.

doyle said...

Dear Paul, Kate, and Kathryn,

Thank you for the words. Faith is an odd thing, and a very human one. It gets me through the night (except maybe at 3 AM when I hear my heart beating).

Getting rid if the letter was a big step. I try to let go of the anger without letting go of her.

Kelly said...

Thank you for your post.

Blogger In Middle-earth said...

It’s said Time’s the healer. Some things don’t heal
so there is no scar to see. Rubbing helps,
but to rub it needs thinking about grief.
People don’t recognise pain and suffering
when they don’t see a scar. It is good to speak
and to let us know your scar is still there.

doyle said...

Dear Kelly,

Thanks for coming by.

Dear Ken,

Well put (as usual). Leslie was talking to my sister Marnie, and they both agreed this year was a hard one. Not sure if it gets harder, or we just forget how hard it is.

In some ways I'll never recover. I never thought I'd ever have to live in a universe without Mary Beth--she was the heart and soul of our clan.

Leslie said...

Definitely a harder year. I'm not sure why. Yesterday, Joan Jett's "Bad Reputation" was on the car radio, and it brought me right back--us so much younger, our daughter Kerry just two or so, and wonderful, magical Aunt MB swooping in from whatever global adventure she'd just been on, lifting up Kerry, singing to the song, both of them shaking their heads back and forth "Oh no no no no no no no, not me me me me me me me" and grinning giddily.

It never, ever gets any easier.

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