Holy, Holy, Holy

By Margaret Renkl

July 17, 2017

Holy, Holy, Holy

On the morning after my mother’s sudden death, before I was up, someone brought a basket of muffins, good coffee beans, and a bottle of cream—real cream, unwhipped—left them at the back door, and tiptoed away. I couldn’t eat. The smell of coffee turned my stomach, but my head was pounding from all the what ifs playing across it all night long, and I thought perhaps the cream would make a cup of coffee count as breakfast if I could keep it down. And when I poured the tiniest drip of cream into my cup, it erupted into tiny volcanic bubbles in a hot spring, unspooling skeins of bridal lace, fireworks over a dark ocean, stars streaking across the night sky above a silent prairie. And that’s how I learned the world would go on. An irreplaceable life had winked out in an instant, but outside my window the world was flaring up in celebration. Someone was hearing, “It’s benign.” Someone was saying, “It’s a boy.” Someone was throwing out her arms and crying, “Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you!”

Comments (35) - Post a Comment
This is so amazingly beautiful! I opened my email, feeling my usual anxieties--teaching, Monday, and morning. The world felt constricted around me. But then I read this, and the world opened up and shone like a geode. Thank you!
Cora Schenberg at 8:18am EDT - July 17, 2017
Lovely!
Lisa K. Buchanan at 8:21am EDT - July 17, 2017
Love this. Thank you.
Amy yelin at 8:40am EDT - July 17, 2017
So real and generous and beautiful. A nourishing reminder. Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you!
Carol Barrow at 8:45am EDT - July 17, 2017
Thank you, Margaret. My own mother's death was neither sudden nor recent but I always grieve her absence. Your lovely words give me a new way to think about loss and renewal.
Claudia Geagan at 8:47am EDT - July 17, 2017
Your images are a gift for the senses - I think because you unlock the power and beauty a "tiny" "drip" of cream contains, so often overlooked in daily life. How can this phrase be forgotten - "unspooling skeins of bridal lace?" And the way you place your mother at the center of gratefulness. She flares away from you, up with hope. How can I ever watch fireworks and not think of her? How can I not imagine "the night sky above a silent prairie" when in need of comfort?
Deborah Burghardt at 9:04am EDT - July 17, 2017
This so surprised and uplifted me. Thank you.
Sue Repko at 10:10am EDT - July 17, 2017
This is achingly beautiful, how a small act of kindness brings hope.
Tim Bennett at 11:15am EDT - July 17, 2017
my mother is 92 and winking more quickly. I worked on a draft obit yesterday, my heart landed hard afterwards. This piece is a blessing, beautiful and warm. Thank you
sally at 11:21am EDT - July 17, 2017
I love the simple act of cream in coffee opened up a world. Beautiful writing.
Peggy Lamb at 12:13pm EDT - July 17, 2017
My condolences and my thanks for sharing such a moving and relatable piece.
Desiree Magney at 3:11pm EDT - July 17, 2017
Amen!
Angela von Werder at 3:28pm EDT - July 17, 2017
"...but outside my window the world was flaring up in celebration." Lovely and true.
Laurie Granieri at 3:56pm EDT - July 17, 2017
Margaret, Thank you for this tiny beautiful thing. In a difficult moment, you made my day.
Mary Mandeville at 4:52pm EDT - July 17, 2017
Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you! This is what writing at its best can do -- touch the heart of a reader and make her weep.
Deborah Nedelman at 11:43pm EDT - July 17, 2017
Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you! This is what writing at its best can do -- touch the heart of a reader and make her weep.
Deborah Nedelman at 11:43pm EDT - July 17, 2017
Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you! This is what writing at its best can do -- touch the heart of a reader and make her weep.
Deborah Nedelman at 11:43pm EDT - July 17, 2017
Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you! This is what writing at its best can do -- touch the heart of a reader and make her weep.
Deborah Nedelman at 11:43pm EDT - July 17, 2017
Thank you! Thank you! Oh, thank you! This is what writing at its best can do -- touch the heart of a reader and make her weep.
Deborah Nedelman at 11:43pm EDT - July 17, 2017
A beautiful rendering of the shock a griever feels when the sun comes up the next morning.
Bethany Rohde at 12:46am EDT - July 18, 2017
Such an unexpected and stunning image, provides both comfort and hope,I absolutely love this piece.Thank you.
Virginia Boudreau at 6:56am EDT - July 18, 2017
So beautiful! Thank you!
Jan Shoemaker at 8:04am EDT - July 18, 2017
So beautiful! Thank you!
Jan Shoemaker at 8:04am EDT - July 18, 2017
Absolutely, achingly beautiful!
Cathy at 10:45pm EDT - July 18, 2017
A wonder. Thank you.
Kris Willcox at 1:28pm EDT - July 19, 2017
Thank you; this put things back in perspective for me today.
LoriT at 12:55pm EDT - July 21, 2017
Thank you; this put things back in perspective for me today.
LoriT at 12:55pm EDT - July 21, 2017
Beautifully written, Margaret! The deepest sorrow, everyone has to go through.... Loosing my mother was the hardest and out of that great loss my soul started to churn out poetry healing my heart.
Life is the greaest GIFT & recognizng the blessings is the secret to healing!!! VeerajaR
Veeraja R at 12:57pm EDT - July 24, 2017
Thanks for your thoughtful perspective into life, death and coffee cream: You stirred up memories of my own mother's recent death day and the small comforts that helped me through.
Brian McGreevy at 1:10pm EDT - July 24, 2017
My mother's 18-month journey towards depth left me feeling like an orphan but your words provide immense comfort. I will be sharing your lovely piece with my friends losing their moms for a long time. Thank you for sharing your grief in such a healing manner for all of us. God be with you --
Kim Dougherty at 2:19pm EDT - July 24, 2017
My mother's 18-month journey towards depth left me feeling like an orphan but your words provide immense comfort. I will be sharing your lovely piece with my friends losing their moms for a long time. Thank you for sharing your grief in such a healing manner for all of us. God be with you --
Kim Dougherty at 2:19pm EDT - July 24, 2017
Great writing,keep telling the truth!
Tom Herzog at 5:38pm EDT - July 24, 2017
I love this piece so much.
Beth Ann Fennelly at 6:32pm EDT - July 24, 2017
Your words are so poignant. Even when our heart is breaking from personal loss, it is comforting to know that the miracle of life will go on.
Tanja Britton at 6:46pm EDT - July 24, 2017
This (yet again) lovely and brilliant piece reminded me of one of my very favorite book moments, from Tom Stoppard's ARCADIA:

The ordinary-sized stuff which is our lives, the things people write poetry about -- clouds - daffodils - waterfalls - and what happens in a cup of coffee when you put the cream in -- these things are full of mystery, as mysterious to us as the heavens were to the Greeks.

Yes. For the pain of loss, I am sorry. For the ability to find words and make beauty, I am fortunate.
Jennifer Haendel at 7:02am EDT - July 27, 2017


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