Natalie Harris’s words at Jill’s service:
Adrift by Mark Nepo
Everything is beautiful and I am so sad.
This is how the heart makes a duet of
wonder and grief. The light spraying
through the lace of the fern is as delicate
as the fibers of memory forming their web
around the knot in my throat. The breeze
makes the birds move from branch to branch
as this ache makes me look for those I’ve lost
in the next room, in the next song, in the laugh
of the next stranger. In the very center, under
it all, what we have that no one can take
away and all that we’ve lost face each other.
It is there that I’m adrift, feeling punctured
by a holiness that exists inside everything.
I am so sad and everything is beautiful.
I’m so sad that Jill is gone. The berries she cultivated are bursting and blue; the sungold tomatoes are flaming orange and so, so sweet; the flowers are artfully arranged, abundant, and will die in their beds, surrounded by rocks that will last. Jill’s joy was in planting, nurturing, and sharing. “Everything is beautiful” because of her devotion, and “I am so sad.”
And yet, as a famous poet wrote, “What thou lovest well remains.” For Jill, what she loved best of all was her beautiful daughter Anny. And then her sweet, treasured granddaughter Fenton, who, even without memories of Jill, will carry vital bits of her grandmother inside her. As a close friend, I hold “fibers of memory” that, joined with those of her other friends, will form a durable fabric enfolding us all in Jill’s warmth, generosity, intelligence, and wit. I feel blessed to have been her friend for over 30 years—beginning in our self-named geriatric Lamaze class of 3 couples, continuing through the pleasures and challenges of raising our children, and lasting all the way through the birth of our grandchildren. What we shared deepened and widened as the years passed. Now she has passed, and what remains, what we all share now, what we are here to remember and celebrate is love—hers for us and ours for her.