Diary 6/5/21

The end of June marks Richard’s birthday and a week later, Father’s Day. My daughters, my brother-in- laws, and I are all attuned to this bittersweet month of summer. His death is still a mystery in our hearts. It still stirs coals of hot loss and celebratory bonfires that carry sparks of memory up into the firmament. The Milky Way still glows, the dawn arrives with birdsong, the heat beneath the sun in a perfect blue sky exudes a lazy joy to the tune of lawnmowers and barking dogs. And wonder of wonders, Richard is still not here on this third anniversary of his birthday since his death.

Another member of my former tribe in New York state has died. Someone of my current tribe in Ohio dies almost every month. Kendal at Oberlin is a Continuing Care Retirement Community of over 350 folks, a CCRC. (In case you are looking at retirement communities, this is a good acronym to learn.) As one resident whispered to me in my first month here, “We come here to die.” That is so.

We also come to here to live our fullest lives until that event, and others have said to me, “Oh, I’ll never retire.” KAO is a dynamic interactive group of elders that fills an overflowing bowl of experiences and gifts that are generously shared in every aspect of human endeavors- scientists, mathematicians, political activists, professors and teachers of every stripe, working artists in every medium, therapists, ministers and more. Our evening programs (now shared on zoom or on our inhouse TV station initiated and created by our own tech people during the Covid19 lockdown) might present a trip to Amazonia showing the six orchids discovered and named after a resident, or clips of a professional canoeist and his white-water class five river rapid excursions on the Colorado River. Or there are recent performances of home grown plays, and musical offerings from a string quartet with a viola de gamba (played by the canoeist, also a former holistic chiropractor) to harpsichord concertos, to recorder ensembles. Another retired English teacher friend reads classic short stories at teatime on the TV channel once a month. Art shows adorn our walls and hallways. Small groups gather to their interests, and square dance, swim, paint, call local politicians, or meditate together. Regular committees run the business of Kendal in conjunction with staff and board members. It is a vibrant tribe that I have chosen to adopt as my home. Without Richard. This is my home.

That I can afford to be here in the Assisted Living wing is such a gift. It is certainly the high end of an eldering experience. Due to previous luck and hard work, I am grateful to be here every day. I can only wish that someday, my life will not be such an exclusive one- that our culture will look to support everybody’s gathered years of wisdom and contributions as we pass the baton on to the next generations. It is also part of KAO’s plan that we are close in every way to Oberlin College and that we have a preschool Children’s Learning Center housed within our campus. We have the opportunity to exchange our lives with all ages. We trek our past journeys with them and envision new ones that we will not live to see completed.

I have mentioned our weekly Song Swap led by my friend, Judy Cook, a working professional folksinger. We also share a smaller Ballad Song Night every other week. Our definition of a ballad is broad and so I wrote this quirky song celebrating Life/Death with Ballad Night in mind. I’ll sing it to our crew next week and see how it goes over before I dare sing it at Song Swap which is broadcast to the whole community. Since there is a large diversity of beliefs, religions, and atheists at KAO, I wanted to find a way to express my own values in language that remains inclusive when addressing death, which flowers quietly in my June heart.

Cosmic Dust                            by Judi Bachrach 5/31/21

One of these days I’m gonna close my eyes

for me that day, the sun won’t rise

but for you, the sun, will go, right on shining

Clouds will come and clouds will go

some cry rain and some cry snow

we search, to find, any kind of-silver lining


We are made of cosmic dust

just like our shining star

When we die- look to the light

that’s who and what we are

Dust to dust- light to light

that’s who and what we are

The sun shines down on everyone

saints and sinners, old and young

We all, tumbled out, of the same pocket

Now I hardly leave the ground

I used to fly all around

inside, my very own- human rocket


I was born to live, I was born to die

I was born to keep on asking why

The answer comes- find your joy, in love

Everything else, does not last

I learned that slow, I learned that fast

Joy shines, on earth, same as- the sun above


Between our first and final breath

Sing of life and sing of death

Find delight in every song we sing

Make a joyful noise when it’s time to go

Sing high and sweet, sing soft and low

Become the bell to swell your heart- to ring


We are made of cosmic dust

just like our shining star

When we die- look to the light

that’s who and what we are

Dust to dust- light to light

that’s who and what we are

Dust to dust, light to light

that’s who and what we are

7 thoughts on “Cosmic Dust

  1. Hi Judi,

    It is always good to hear your voice, hear your perspective know you are there Judi. Thank you for keeping on sharing! Love, Sally McAfee


  2. I’d love to hear the ballad with musical accompaniment! I saw a quotation today that struck my heart: Death ends a life, not a relationship. So true.


    1. I will be bold and try out the wordpress offer of : want to do a podcast? I am not a professional singer or musician but I write songs and sing them so.. I will give it a go.

      I love that quote and yes, the relationship with my departed beloveds goes on as long as I do.

      Liked by 1 person

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