Alan MacIlroy and Tasha O’Neill birding foggy Brigantine on Christmas 2015
The news we always knew, but never believed, slashes out of morning, startling and impossible as thunder snow.
Although creativity is the heart of the matter in the home Alan MacIlroy has left for our true home, — neither words nor images come to my summons, as mourning descends upon me.
My dearest Tasha is widowed anew. Alan’s ruddy car sits in their driveway with its subtle license reminding us of his priority: TH JRNY. Now he has embarked on the universal journey.
Over more years than I can tally, Tasha and Alan and I have shared priceless rituals, from fireside lobster in Maine to Christmas picnics at Brigantine Wildlife Refuge.
The day of our foggy Christmas feast, a peregrine falcon had stationed itself upon a speed limit sign — “15 mph” — just beyond the Brig’s northeast corner turn. My camera does not do justice to this monarch holding court for a rosary of reverent automobiles immobilized upon the dike road. Alan, Tasha and I quietly slid out of his Christmasy car to stand in silence, worshiping.
After a significant interval, Alan announced, “Let’s not go over to Scott’s Landing for our Christmas dinner. How could we leave the peregrine?”
Only as I type this, do I realize, the word peregrine means wanderer.
Alan is the consummate mentor. “Mr. Fix-It.” Every problem solved, especially in advance, especially for his cherished Kingston church, and local businessmen and women. Each wooded trail at their Maine home maintained. Every lobster boat observed upon stormy or tranquil bay. Each wood fire, kindled on a cooling summer’s night. His dazzling, impeccable TR 4, shining on the driveway, ready for a jaunt. He is each woodworking project magnificently accomplished, including caning two chairs for me, burnishing the Provencal olive wood cutting board that had dimmed since I lived there. Grace, gentleness, generosity. Smiles and that quiet voice we will no longer hear. Alan was the essence of tranquility. Alan is love.
His quietly merry spirit will be with us on every future excursion. Yet the glow of that luminous man has become memory.
Mary Elizabeth’s crystalline phrases echo as I find myself bereft of words. May her inspiration be with NJWILDBEAUTY readers — in this dire era, –in which too many days begin with yet another cancer call:
Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.
Tasha Prepares our 2015 Christmas Feast
“How can we leave the peregrine?” Now, our wanderer has left us…