Two people were buried this last week that I thought a lot of, and would like to have known better. There is a certain amount of resignation to the death of those we love when it happens at older ages. “Older” in this case shifts with time, I think, but always means “significantly older than me.”
But both of these amazing people were younger than me, and both their obituaries in the paper said “survived by parents,” and that seems to me the worst of all. No one should have to bury their child—and they are always your children, no matter how old they are. My heart goes out to their parents and everyone who loved Cody “Bronc” Dulaney and Jamie Batson. So many people will miss you both!
They both had the gift of understanding what “joy” actually means in this life.
Jamie fought breast cancer to a standstill once, and you can read about it in her book, “I Survived the Attack of the Killer Boobie.” It is irreverent and amazing, still up on Amazon, and feels especially poignant now. My heart goes out to Jamie’s husband Bruce, daughter Zoe and son Zachary, who fought every step of these last five years with her, supporting her, loving her, taking joy in any good news, and holding her tightly in the worst times.
Cody took such joy in the two babies that his beautiful wife, Becky, bore this last couple of years. Son Bronc and daughter Presley may be too small to remember their daddy, but there are an awful lot of people who will be able to tell them who he was, and how much he loved them. Cody was only 34, and gone so much too soon. He lived his life within the lines of the cowboy code. The person who put it in words best was Kathy Weiser in Legends of America. Just a few of the tenets include:
“Don't inquire into a person's past. Take the measure of a man for what he is today.
Defend yourself whenever necessary.
Look out for your own.
Never pass anyone on the trail without saying "Howdy."
Never even bother another man's horse.
A cowboy doesn't talk much; he saves his breath for breathing.
Get your horse some feed before you eat.
Cuss all you want, but only around men, horses and cows.
A cowboy is pleasant even when out of sorts. Complaining is what quitters do, and cowboys hate quitters.
Always be courageous. Cowards aren't tolerated in any outfit worth its salt.
A cowboy always helps someone in need, even a stranger or an enemy.
Never try on another man's hat.
Real cowboys are modest. A braggart who is "all gurgle and no guts" is not tolerated.
A cowboy is loyal to his "brand," to his friends, and those he rides with.
Honesty is absolute - your word is your bond; a handshake is more binding than a contract.”
It’s an honorable to way to live.
I’m writing this on Easter Sunday morning, with the wind whipping through the trees of the Big Canyon in the darkness before the dawn. I know these wonderful people who just lost someone they loved are in an awfully dark place.
At this time of year, though, no matter your religious bent, the stories of resurrection come to mind. For two thousand years, it has been part of the season of rebirth, as the long winter passes, and the natural world begins to stir with color after its chilly slumber.
I believe we love flowers here in the desert because they are such a triumphant and joyful thing, beating the heat, wind, drought and the arid soil. Even the spikiest, most lethal cactus bursts into glorious color to draw the bees and the birds to help it propagate. Just for a moment, a bit of softness and joyful pause in the pathway from birth to its eventual decay, subsiding back into the soil to enrich it just that little bit, to make a place for its offspring, so life might go on.
I’m thinking out loud, those grieving for Jamie and Cody may find it awfully hard to realize there will be joy after the dark days of their sorrow. But as they make their way back to the light, it is a promise that there will be joy again. A shared memory, a child’s laugh, a reminder that, as spring follows the winter, light always follows the darkness.
I’m thinking out loud that love is that immortal energy—it will change, but it never dies.
Lisa C Hannon’s email is firstname.lastname@example.org. She lives and writes in West Texas.