It was time for our annual “Boys Trip,” that yearly male-bonding ritual with my son-in-laws where I come to peace with the fact that I have to share my beloved daughters with these rapists who have stolen them from me. It’s easier being with them now — after all, for most of them it’s been at least a decade, and they have blessed me with 6 grandchildren. This year brings a newly acquired son-in-law who is by nature a gentle soul, and I am mellowing with age.
This year, we almost didn’t make the trip. One of my sons was hospitalized with an acute GI bleed the week before our anticipated departure. During those days of uncertainty, we were reminded of the transient nature of our days. We left him in good hands and went off to the Mayan Riviera where we explored the ancient ruins, went cavern diving, ate fresh ceviche, drank lots of beer, and sang songs late into the night.
One night in the moonlight, I sat on the beach watching an approaching storm. Descending from the ominous clouds were streaks of falling rain. In the enveloping darkness, I thought about my missing son and had the awareness that there would come a time when I too would miss this trip. The wind picked up, and the storm moved more quickly than I had thought. In the billowing clouds I saw two angels, both covered in flowing white gowns; one was looking prophetically into the distance, and the other had an outstretched arm pointing into the distance. It began sprinkling and the gusting winds changed the clouds into a galloping horse whose head was straining forward with mane flowing as it flew across the night sky.
The moon became obscured by the fast-moving clouds and the celestial forms were now illuminated from behind. The galloping horse morphed into a clipper ship under full sail. I was so riveted by the kaleidoscopic sky show that I didn’t run when the sprinkles became a downpour. Pelted by the rain, I saw in the distance the moonlight begin to shine through. The cloud cover was thinning; the tropical storm would soon blow over.
In the coming light, surrounded by my sons and brother, I understood that the antidote to the fear of death is to embrace the possibilities of where we are now. We live, love, hurt, change, age, and we all know how it ends. The goal is not to feel good in every moment or preserve what we have, but rather to not feel threatened by what we face.
The Hopi Indians believe that one’s last breath becomes a cloud. We can be seen even after we depart this earthly realm. Angels, galloping horses and sailing ships are what we become. Savor every moment because, like clouds, our lives move more quickly than we imagine. We are remembered in the clouds by those who feel our presence.