Dusty Trails

Photo by Mica Asato on Pexels.com

Nearly a month ago, my neighbors’ only child, I’ll call her Felicity (one of my favorite names!), about whom I’ve written a previous blog post, relocated to attend a college about four hours away from home. I’ve not seen her mom, but her dad, as I’ve written about prior, is having a difficult time dealing with her departure.

All grief, as far as I am concerned, as I’ve also written about before, is valid. Whether you mourn the lose of a pet turtle or death of a child or grieve a child who has catapulted into the next stage of life, there is an infinite roll-out of feelings and emotions associated with a sense of loss. Grief is a natural response to a painful or traumatic experience that is part of the human condition over which we have no control over. This time, hearing my neighbor share a part of his heartbreak involving his daughter, I was able to step completely outside my personal emotional pain and maneuver my way onto the bridge that connects us humans better than Crazy Glue: empathy.

His tone had an absorbing melancholy when he discussed the slow fade of time. In other words, in retrospect, although you’re going all out, have both feet planted on the pedals, it’s a losing race.

“The house has a different energy about it without her,” he vocalized as his head tilted downward.

Energy. Yes, I thought, life is energy. In this same vein, his daughter’s departure could be a song: Felicity is packed. Ready to go. Boxes and bags, belongings and energy flow. All her belongings, only to leave us longing.

Thinking deeper about this, Felicity disappeared from her house, but not completely. You see,  Biology 101 teaches us that the body’s cells and organs work together to keep the body going, to make it the energy field that it is. As a safeguard, the body is also equipped with many natural defenses to help it stay alive. For instance, in order to fight infections, we humans “lose 200,000,000 skin cells every hour. During a 24-hour period, a person loses almost five thousand million skin cells.” In one year, the total amount of dead skin loss per person is more than eight pounds, that’s about as big as a Labrador puppy.

The process is our human way of shedding. What falls off us collects as dust. All those fast-flying gossamer bunnies you find nesting in the corner of the radiator and on your tables and windowsills are amassed mostly of former bits of yourself, which, in turn, provide a gourmet haven for dust mites!

And, here’s the point I’m getting at. About 20 years ago, I heard a renowned historic preservation architect speak. If you don’t know already, a historic preservation architect helps preserve old buildings that have historical value. Anyway, he said that each time a building is demolished, not only do we witness an inanimate object disappear, but, along with it, is the annihilation of a trail in human history – thousands upon thousands of shredded cells from the lives that once laughed, loved and experienced the many highs and lows of life on the premises. The architect’s somber talk, which kept me on the edge of my seat and on the verge of tears, changed my life forever.

In my own house, built in 1980, after hearing the talk, I thought about the “remains” of the two families that lived here prior to us. Even though I am a germophobe, I know that they have left their marks in secret places that are spared from my cleaning habits. Sadly, the boy in the second family died in a horrific accident when he was 13. My children went to school with him and they always felt creeped out to know he lived in our home. His bedroom was where I once housed my office. His shreds of long-ago life filled me with faith and reminds me that he matters.

In essence, Felicity and her energy are gone, but her shredded skin still coats her house like angel dust. And this goes for my departed son, mom (my dad passed away before he ever could see our house), brother and my relocated daughter, our pets, and even ex-husband who lives in a state 600 miles away, not to mention all the many friends, extended family and acquaintances who have crossed my house’s threshold to visit over this 20-year span. Yes, they are all here somewhere in places invisible to the naked eye, but still close, like a whisper in my ear. Their remains peeled off during ebbs and flows in the tide of their lives. They are all part of my household history like my own skin that sheds at this very moment as I stroke my creative muse.  We partner peacefully, drifting, weaving tapestries from everything repurposed, sustainable and with a thread of hope that they will last through the remainder of the century and, if possible, push farther into the next dusty trail that sometimes seems like a riverbend ahead.

Faith Muscle

14 thoughts on “Dusty Trails

  1. I was once again transported with your writing, Stacy. I can completely relate to dust – It is that time of year approaching the anniversary of my son’s death. When the autumn leaves change, it reminds me of him. I actually wrote – “the falling leaves represent my son’s body crumpling into dust.” Very sad indeed and I know you understand.
    But I found your dust explanations to be riveting, It does seem that people leave something behind, even though it is microscopic – it does add up. As a side note, I started thinking of all the hair of mine collecting in the shower drain and picked up with the vacuum! That could be a whole other post.
    The essence – smell, touch, smile, voice – this is what we hold onto. I hope Felicity’s father can feel her essence when she’s far away. The essence of my son is something I grasp for, even after almost 30 years. Sending you a big hug, as I know you understand all too well.

  2. I just love the way you write Stacy. Judy says you transported her. For me you give voice to me umpteen thoughts that clatter around my head gathering dust crying out simply to be said. And that’s before I go to bed and dream where all the umpteens wake up dance, charge about, get dressed up and teem out taking me to places as yet unseen. See…. thank you for having such wonderful grace Stacy…its angelic and so precious….. so so precious.. big hugs for you 😊💞🎈

  3. tanmantras my teacher used to call them, the psychic trail that we leave behind that serves as a sort of memory vortex into the person who used to occupy a space, or a feeling, or an idea. Metaphysical chem trails you could call them, with as you point out, a physical element as wel no doubt.

    Love and loss, life and death, friends and enemies, all fully understood through their experience and the experience of their absence or opposite. Doesn’t diminish or even quell the grief or the loss but it does make you appreciate the love, the friendship, the life when it presents itself. And this is the point in the end.


  4. Your writing has so much depth and beauty. Our last of many dogs crossed over the bridge about two years ago, but we still find dog hair on some of our sweaters, coats, and blankets. My parents old china cabinet must contain some of their skin cells along with their old greeting cards, nick nacs, and photos. All blessings.

  5. It’s a beautiful post Stacy! I would like to share the following:
    In my high school years I was the one that was leaving the house to go to boarding school (only 13 years old at that time and 600km – 372 miles from home). And my mom always told me how she walked through the empty house for days after my brother and I left with the bus – holding on to our smells as long as she could and picking up stuff that we left behind … I never thought how difficult it was for her until she told us only when we were much older.

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