I was raking leaves yesterday. It was a beautiful day for it - no wind, bright sun and blue sky, some leaves still on the trees but most of them on the ground - dry and crunchy. I bagged up 5 full paper sacks from the backyard, raked the driveway leaves and the front yard ones to the curb for pickup.
Raking the leaves in the driveway, I spied a quarter. Not uncommon, really - I am the type to drop coins from my pockets or purse, and my bedroom, car, and office are often fertile hunting grounds for loose change. But this was different - I raked it out of the garden by the driveway and bent to pick up a 1934 silver quarter. Back in the day, my grandfather used to collect coins, and he'd show us how to look at the edge of coins for old silver ones, which were special, more valuable. So finding a 1934 quarter - lucky.
My father was born a year before 1934. He died in 1979 - just shy of his 45th birthday. Now I, his eldest child, am 46. I'm older than my father ever was. There was a time when I thought perhaps that 45 was the limit of my life - that my genes and fate doomed me to a short life. But no, I'm 46 now. A young 46 - I stood on my hands this year, I jump up into a headstand whenever I can. This morning I ran down a balloon as it landed in a field, and I pulled it down into the field. I know I'm not young, but I feel young. A lot of life in me, a lot of life up ahead.
Death has made itself known to me a few time this past year - my doctor's family, a friend's mother, an friend of an online friend. But death has kept its distance - my family remains intact, Zippy's family as well.
Raking the leaves, picking up an armful of the leaves like skin shed by the trees, looking up into a bright blue sky pierced by skeletal branches - it's hard not to feel lucky. To be here. Breathing. Lighting a fire. Cleaning up. Wondering about it all.