"One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture
and, if possible, speak a few reasonable words." ~Goethe

~ also, if possible, to dwell in "a house where all's accustomed, ceremonious." ~Yeats

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dagmar's Birthday


Dagmar loved having lunch outside at little places like this!
Photo above taken in Brookston, Indiana
By Dagmar Murray, October 2010

Lunch Friends: Dagmar, Kitti, Katy, Cathy
(My Birthday Last Year)

I'm posting a day early this time ~ on the 13th instead of the 14th ~ because my friend Dagmar was born on April 13th, 1959, and today would have been her 52nd birthday.

Another friend ~ www.jandonley.com ~ also born in April and often mentioned on my blogs, sent a link to the following poem the other day on facebook. Jan wasn't sending the poem, which she describes as "short and so, so beautiful," just to me. Nor did she send it in connection with Dagmar, who died last month, sadly and suddenly. However, as so often happens, Jan's message seemed to come at precisely the right time, thus I share Rilke's poem here today in honor of Dagmar's birthday:

Let This Darkness Be a Bell Tower

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

by Rainer Maria Rilke
from his Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29
translation by Joanna Macy and Anita Barrows

Dinner Dance Friends: Dagmar, Katy, Cathy, Kitti
(Keith, Peter, Jack, Gerry)

Dinner Theatre Friends: Dagmar, Kitti, Katy, Cathy, Leta
(2 husbands visible; 3 others taking photographs)


I also spent an afternoon last week reading Maya Angelou 's Letter to My Daughter because I wanted to find the sections that I heard Dagmar's daughters read at her memorial service. I believe these are the lines:

"I find it very difficult to let a friend or beloved go into that country of no return. I answer the heroic question, 'Death, where is thy sting?' with 'It is here in my heart, and my mind, and my memories.' I am besieged with painful awe at the vacuum left by the dead. Where did she go? Where is he now? . . . I find relief from the questions only when I concede that I am not obliged to know everything. I remind myself it is sufficient to know what I know, and that what I know, may not always be true.

"When I find myself filling with rage over the loss of a beloved, I try as soon as possible to remember that my concerns and questions should be focused on what I learned or what I have yet to learn from my departed love. What legacy was left which can help me in the art of living a good life?

"Did I learn to be kinder,
To be more patient,
And more generous,
More loving,
More ready to laugh,
And more easy to accept honest tears?

"If I accept those legacies of my departed beloveds, I am able to say, Thank You to them for their love and Thank You to God for their lives."
(107 - 08)

And this:

"Condolences: For a too brief moment in the universe the veil was lifted. They mysterious became known. Questions met answers somewhere behind the stars. Furrowed brows were smoothed and eyelids closed over long unblinking stares.

"Your beloved occupied the cosmos. You awoke to sunrays and nestled down to sleep in moonlight. All life was a gift open to you and burgeoning for you. Choirs sang to harps and your feet moved to ancestral drumbeats. For you were sustaining and being sustained by the arms of your beloved.

"Now the days stretch before you with the dryness and sameness of desert dunes. And in this season of grief we who love you have become invisible to you. Our words worry the empty air around you and you can sense no meaning in our speech.

"Yet we are here. We are still here. Our hearts ache to support you.

"We are always loving you.

"You are not alone."
(111 - 12)

Millennium Park Mirror Ball, Chicago
Photo by Dagmar Murray, February 2009

Back in June 2009, when I started my daily blog ~ The Quotidian Kit ~ I asked Dagmar if I could use her photo of our reflections in the giant mirror ball as the header, because it goes so well with the quoted passage from Quinton Duval. The city looks to me like a big, rounded jar where big ideas might huddle, along with the miniaturized images of our lunch group. We may appear very tiny, but we are not alone!

Here are a couple more pictures taken on the same day:

Riding the Train to Chicago . . .
to have lunch at the Italian Village and see "Jersey Boys"

Dagmar, Kitti, Cathy . . .
at the Chagall Four Seasons Mosaic
First National Plaza
Corner South Dearborn & West Monroe Streets

"The stars were my best friends.
The air was full of legends and phantoms,
full of mythical and fair-tale creatures,
which suddenly flew away over the roof,
so that one was at one with the firmament."

Marc Chagall

Next Fortnightly Post
Thursday, April 28, 2011

Between now and then, read
my shorter, almost daily blog posts

Looking for a good book? Try
my running list of recent reading


  1. a beautiful tribute to your dear friend Dagmar.

  2. I wish I had known Dagmar. She sounds like an inspirational woman. You've honored her so well with this post.