“This Attic Where the Meadow Greens,” by Ray Bradbury, has very personal associations for me. I hadn’t planned on posting a reading of it now. In fact, until this evening I hadn’t read it from beginning to end in a number of years, because, like most things that carry deep emotional weight, the time has to be right.
For some reason, the time was right again this evening, several years after I last read it to myself, and almost eight years after I last read it aloud to others. Times of transition and uncertainty are when we begin to fall, but are often caught up in the strong and reassuring arms of those who helped to make, and help to maintain, the best parts of who we are.
Those arms usually belong to the few, great people in our lives who truly, unconditionally love us. They are the people whose love, we know, will last up until the day they die – which means, of course, that their love will never really die at all. It is with us now, and it will stay with us, powerful and omnipotent, for the rest of our lives.
Needless to say, many people are struggling right now, and in a myriad of ways, even if the root cause is the same. How we view the world is being slowly altered, just as our daily lives are being modified, and just as our greater societies are being restructured. We are being forced to adapt to new scenarios that, depending on circumstances, can range from generally stressful to profoundly catastrophic. In the worst-case scenarios, people are losing loved ones – or even their own lives. At the very least, all of us are losing other aspects of reassuring stability. On whatever level, the burden of change is there, and through it all runs an undercurrent of loss.
So maybe that’s why this evening, as I sat down to work on this entry, I’d planned to focus on one poem, and ended up reading and recording “This Attic Where the Meadow Greens” instead. Ray was a dear, dear friend – “Papa Ray,” my sons call him even now. And there are times, like now, when I still miss him greatly, along with others who were taken away by Death’s “older, stricter rules,” as Ray puts it.
Yet this poem serves to remind me of the gifts they left behind. For many years before Ray’s death, I read it and thought about my grandfather, who died when I was young. Now, when I read it, I think about my grandfather, and also about Ray. And, as always, I still feel those strong and reassuring arms around me that will never allow me to fall.