The move was exhausting. What move isn’t? What goes and what stays? Are we doing the right thing? Are we crazy at our age to move to a larger house with no storage? Isn’t this backwards? People said…oh we envy you…you are so brave and adventurous. We’re pretty sure we know what they said when we were out of earshot and we wondered if they weren’t right. But we did it anyway.
The move was even more exhausting than I had imagined. There’s a small…really small…bedroom on the second floor of the new house…right next to the church. It’s more of a cubby than anything else in which I spent the first few weeks after the move, away from the world. One afternoon in the middle of one of my seemingly endless naps the church bells began to chime. In my haze, I assumed they were checking to see if they work (trust me, they worked). I began to count but on and on they went. Surely, I thought, they could figure the problem out faster than that.
We quickly learned that the church bells peal at funerals…..once for every year of the person’s life. How soon we changed our thoughts about the number of times the bells ring. Now when we hear them , we quietly begin to count. We think about the people in the church, honoring the person for whom those bells toll. We say a quiet prayer for each of the souls, the one being honored and the ones in mourning. But perhaps more than anything, we count…slowly and deliberately. One, two, three…..
What we want is for those bells to go on and on……signifying a life lived long and , we hope, well. When the bells stop too soon……(and that changes with our own perspective of a long life)…..we emotionally join the mourners. We’ve heard them stop at thirty…..and hoped that it was a mistake….that the system failed. But it’s fool proof and so we ask ourselves…..why? Why so soon? Not enough time here…..those bells should not be for them. They’re for those who have fulfilled their lives. But it happens, of course. We know that intellectually but, let me tell you, those bells bring it all home. There’s an ache when they stop….a finality, an auditory clamp to the end of that life. They quit as abruptly as they began.
Fleeting, isn’t it? Two or three minutes of bells being rung and it’s over. Suddenly and maddeningly over. If I could go over there and ring those bells some more, I’d do it. I can’t of course. They’re as programmed as our lives and no one can do a bloody thing about it.