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Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Guest blogger: Hiking with Daryl

August 14, 2012

by Susan Garrett

Susan Garrett is a Hospice volunteer and a singer with the Threshold Choir

Mt Tamalpais The sleeping princess who does not sleep

I hiked up from my house to the open space high above Red Hill, switchbacking my way through Sorich Park to Tamalpais Cemetery. I was looking for something and I expected I would find it. As I walked, the rhythm of my gait, arms swinging, beat out a poem’s cadence, one I’d learned decades ago, that surfaces in me today:

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.

My feet crunch through late-summer eucalyptus leaves and I climb higher and higher until I begin to see the polished granite and onyx headstones of the Jewish Cemetery. Names are readable now: Irwin, Schneider, Haas, Goldberg, Stein, Gluck and hundreds of others. Stars of David and small photographs adorn many of the flat, cool surfaces. Chiseled lettering tells of a “Beloved wife and mother”… “Too quickly taken”… “Son, husband and cherished father,” “Holocost survivor.” Then I see what I came for. Red dirt, newly turned. It is heaped high next to a plank-board covering. (I’d wondered if they’d dig today, this being the Jewish Sabbath.) They did, for here it is, Daryl’s grave, made ready.

I begin singing Oseh Shalom without thinking to do this and now I’m trying to make the tune and the words come out right through my tears. I crumble into a squat but the singing keeps coming, stronger and more sure now. And that’s what is–me here at his grave, weeping. Weeping, even though I know better, know that he is not here–will never be here–will only ever be the fresh scent of bay and eucalyptus that blows through this space, the crunch of the leaves underfoot, the soil and rock and wood that are the materials he was so adept at working and shaping to create his art.

Thank you, Daryl, for coming into our lives when you did. And thank you for letting me stand at your grave and weep. You are mist, and…you are missed.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there; I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sun on ripened grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning’s hush

I am the swift uplifting rush

Of quiet birds in circling flight.

I am the soft star-shine at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there; I did not die.

~Mary Elisabeth Frye, 1932

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