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No way out but through

This is the Delta of Doom, Caton Avenue and St. Paul's Place. Here, commuters plunge into fathomless black water as they exit the northern end of the Church Avenue B and Q station. After a day of sleet, there was no avoiding it, not even by clambering over the treacherous remains of three (four?) snowstorms. As I slogged through in my "waterproof" boots, an icy trickle invaded my sock as the frigid lake breached a zipper three inches up the ankle.

The pitiful flags wave in celebration of a new newstand/deli on this desolate plaza, replacing the old newstand/deli. That one closed around the time they tore out the token booth on this end of the station, leaving the Metrocard machines in a menacing, filthy void. I wish the deli guys luck in their lonely outpost; the MTA has told us, in a meeting with a local legislator about the station's decrepitude, that, basically, "today is not your day, and tomorrow isn't looking too good, either."

I am about to conclude a fortnight of crossing this River Styx en route to a purgatorial stint on a grand jury. I am sworn to secrecy as to our proceedings, but they present a dispiriting view of human nature (and that's just my fellow jurors, never mind the defendants). I've gotten to court through two snowstorms, an arctic cold snap, and a sleet storm; the first week, I served with a violently wet and debilitating cold, and the second, I have spent recovering from the absurd and repulsive ordeal of a failed (yes, failed) colonoscopy. (Do not be deterred from having this important and life-saving test based on my horrible and futile experience. I am told that only 4% of people manage to drink a gallon of antifreeze and still not be "ready" for the scope.)

And all of this has been nothing compared to the fact that we are, incredibly, losing Beloved Cousin, to the same malignant enemy that the scope seeks to thwart. A vibrant, radiant, and generous lady dwells now in the shadowlands; most of a continent, locked in snow, stands between us, although I am comforted knowing her children and grandchildren are around her. In her honor, I will go back to the friendly endoscopy suite before a year is out and try again.

But before then, this spring, I will plant my new raised bed in Beloved Cousin's honor. She grew a ridiculous bounty of vegetables in the mountain sunshine. In one of her last missives, she urged us to "seize the day," as she did last year--not just gardening, but traveling to see loved ones and enjoying all she could of life's beauty even through multiple rounds of chemo. If faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen," then I will pick up my garden catalogs and order seeds.

Today was Candlemas, a now-obscure feast 40 days after Christmas, celebrating light and hope. It co-opted a Celtic pagan feast called Imbolc, a halfway point in the long journey from the winter solstice to the spring equinox. Halfway home.

Now dismiss Thy servant, O Lord,
In peace, according to Thy word:
For mine own eyes hath seen Thy salvation,
Which Thou hast prepared in the sight of all the peoples,
A light to reveal Thee to the nations
And the glory of Thy people Israel.

--Candlemas liturgy (Luke 2:29-32)

Posted on Thursday, February 3, 2011 at 12:04AM by Registered CommenterBrenda from Brooklyn in , , , | Comments2 Comments

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Reader Comments (2)

Sorry to hear about Beloved Cousin. I went to church on Wednesday and learned about Candlemass. It shouldn't be obscure--we need to celebrate life and hope as often as we can.
February 6, 2011 at 04:49PM | Unregistered CommenterRob Lenihan
I grew up at 148 St. Paul's Place, in the 40s & 50s. We used to play stick ball against the delta triangle, assuming its still there. My apartment looked out on the subway tracks at the Church Ave stop. My dad worked at a luncheonette at the corner of Church and, I think, E. 19th St.

Among other things, I write about those things on my blog @ http://taxi-dog.com

Thanks for the picture and the memories.

January 2, 2012 at 09:03PM | Unregistered CommenterThe Taxi Dog

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