This Note is from “Notes To Stephanie: Middle Aged Love Letters and Life Stories”. Even now it is one of my favorites and captures some of the overall themes I use in my books: time, family, and things larger than ourselves.
Seeing Jane so sad when we left Galveston made me sad too. As I said driving back it has been a long time since I saw that look on her face. She is usually a pretty happy young lady and full of life. But at her dorm she certainly looked like life had been sucked out of her. So with her Sad-Sack eyes we hugged her bye and climbed in the truck and turned for home.
Once we left Galveston did you notice that there was a shield of cirrus clouds stretching from the southwest to the northeast? It originated somewhere southwest of Houston and flowed northeast with the jet stream. On the top of the causeway with the clear sky the filaments of these ice clouds arched over the Earth stretching back to the western horizon and beyond. The clarity of the air made the clouds stand out sharply over the land of the coastal plain, its own features visible in such crisp relief that one could see the surface slope up to the rolling terrain beyond in the far distance.
And as time and miles unfolded we were underneath it for a while. Then once we were nearly to Waco we were on the other side of it. As we drove further north away from Jane and closer to home, I kept looking in the rear view mirror at those clouds, still arching over one far horizon to another.
Perhaps you thought I was just checking the traffic, but my gaze was looking far beyond what was just behind us. And while this visage was of course very beautiful, I still kept thinking of Jane, sitting alone in her dorm room on the other side of that sky. The clouds represented crossing a Rubicon: a divide in time and one’s life. We had crossed it, so had Jane, and the past of was course gone forever as she took one more step in her adult life being at college far from home pursuing her own dreams and not being that smiling little girl standing in a field in the picture on my desk.
I guess our lives are many times like this. The past is always on the other side of life’s sky, not ever to be the same again. Just as clouds flow overhead never looking the same, and vanish in the distance, our memory of past events fades over time as they recede ever further from the present.
So, when you gaze outside on a day like yesterday, and a web of cirrus spreads across the sky, you should remember that sometimes there are people who are dear to our hearts far away on the other side of those airy wisps, perhaps also looking up at those same clouds towards us and thinking of home, family, and being loved.