The last sunset of 2011

Mr. Bailey just came in from running to the gas station for Mrs. Bailey’s tonic water to tell us there is a beautiful sunset.


The year sunsets as Mr. and Mrs. Bailey walk in the rose-colored twilight of 2011. Image by Modern Mary

being the last day of the year, the idea comes upon me to appreciate it.

“Shall we go take a look at it, then? The last sunset of 2011!” I say with urgency, glancing to the window as the hues in the sky seemed to fade before my eyes.

We hurriedly grab coats, slip in shoes, leash our dog and shuffle out the door.

The mountain sky is full of pillow-y ribbons of pink, fuchsia, orange, backlit with a deep blue of a waning day.

We walk into the cold, into the blue. Take photographs.

I photograph the girls, Mr. Bailey, then feel the need to be a part of this documentation. I turn the camera on me and point to the sky.

Mr. Bailey tells us we need to see the peak in this sunset light. We walk out further than I thought we’d go.

As we walk, I look at the photo I’ve taken. Half of my face occupies the bottom quarter of the image, along with my finger, pointing up. The foreground is my Mother’s ring, aimed miraculously at the rising moon. Somehow I feel, in this moment, the veil thinning and my Mother’s warmth, reaching.

Image by Modern Mary

Prima walks with a notebook in hand and writes a spontaneous poem. Secondo shivers in the cold, having come outside in only short sleeves and borrowed slippers.

Mr. Bailey walks ahead of his girls with our dog pulling at the leash, his stylish but worn brown corduroy jacket covering his strong broad shoulders, which have held so much of our sorrow, our fear, our grief this year. I radiate gratitude for his strength.

Secondo shivers as we walk; I realize I am warm and strip off my coat and put her little arms into the long, black sleeves. She smiles and says, “warm.”

We turn for home. I hold each of the girls – Prima, arm draped across her shoulder, and tell her she was a blessing to me this year, that she will always be a blessing in my life, just by being her. I pick up Secondo in my puffy black coat, she wraps her legs around my waist. I’m grateful she’s still little enough to hold like this. I whisper into her wild, curly hair, she has been a blessing to me this year. “I love you.” She says it simply, a statement, in return.

We head for home. In the pinks and blues surrounding I want to kiss my mother, not just her face, but her spirit.

“Is she here?” I ask aloud, “Does she see us now?”

“We love you!” I call out, blowing a double-handed kiss to the setting sun.

Without breaking stride, I wipe tears away, and move swiftly toward the entry to our corner of warmth and light in this world, into the light, and let the door shut on the year my mother died.