David Sibbet | Life After Death—The Gift of Consciousness
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Life After Death—The Gift of Consciousness - David Sibbet

Life After Death—The Gift of Consciousness


Life After Death—The Gift of Consciousness - David SibbetMy life mate of 46 years, Susan Herron Sibbet, passed away three years ago today. She died in my arms, with our children side by side. Our house had become a sanctuary.

Today, amazingly, she lives on in the form of two books that are being published. One, announced today by Sixteen Rivers Press, is called Great Blue and is a compilation of 52 poems from the whole span of Susan’s writing career, lovingly curated by her writing circle. Her friend Carolyn Miller’s painting is on the cover.

Synchronistically, today is also the day Susan’s “imagined memoir” about Henry James’ amanuensis, Theodora Bonsanquet, It’s called The Constant Listener and will be out in the fall.

When I received Great Blue last week, I read it through in one sitting. The last poem really got me and I want to share it here. Susan had cancer for four years, beginning with endometrial cancer in her uterus, then reappearing in her lungs two years later, and finally her brain and bones. She entered a state of grace near during the last year as we all came to accept the inevitable, and concentrated on really being with each other. Her consciousness rings through in this poem, written during that last year.

The Right Angle for Heaven

I wish I could believe

angels are everywhere

around us and come to us

when we need—

Grandmother, Mary, Helen, and Alice,

their arms filled with baskets

of tiny red strawberries and ripe peaches,

their summer hats at the right

angle for heaven.

Maybe they will bring me

my own hat, a yellow straw one

with a dark ribbon, a bunch of scarlet cherries,

and then I too will follow,

pausing near the sign in the waiting room

near the curved golden peaches

of the Southern Station, listening

for the conductor to call out,

“Richmond, Atlanta, Memphis, Athens, Paradise.”

Then rising, without thinking,

I will choose my destination.

  • Avatar
    Ulric Rudebeck
    September 4, 2016 Reply

    Her memory lives vivid. Thanks for sharing

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    Bill Brauer
    September 2, 2016 Reply

    David, how I remember Susan’s (and your) vibrancy and sensitivity to things beautiful when we gathered monthly to exchange ideas and feelings on literature over a quarter of a century ago, while Yerta cruised around the house like a puppy with a slipper! It is so affirming to know that Susan’s gentle soul lives on in this way.

  • Avatar
    September 1, 2016 Reply

    Wonderful, dearest David.

  • Avatar
    amy lenzo
    September 1, 2016 Reply

    “their summer hats at the right
    angle for heaven”
    Ahhhhhhhh. Now, that is stunning wordplay!

  • Avatar
    lisa kimball
    September 1, 2016 Reply

    What a wonderful poem! thanks for sharing . * lisa

  • Avatar
    Sarah Strickland
    September 1, 2016 Reply

    Sending love from the east…thank you for this gift today.

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