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Twelve days into the structural collapse and later demolition of the North and South Chaplain Condominium in Surfside, Florida, the stories still seep into psyche like fine silt, sated with grief. This is too much, we gripe. Not this!

Denial, however, cushions its full impact for those close by and elsewhere. True, death has always been around, especially in our violent, disease-ridden world. But the magnitude of the Surfside disaster mirrors the sights, sounds, and smells of a war zone, comparatively few have experienced. 

Only today did I remember a response to all of this—the psychologist Dr. Edith Fiore who presented highlights of twenty years of research in her study, The Unquiet Dead (1987). Numerous afflicted clients flocked to her counseling room, complaining of unusual symptoms, likened to loved ones, snatched by death, “like the thief in the night.” Under therapeutic hypnosis, Dr. Fiore relieved these disorders and helped the too-quickly-dead in their transition to the next life; their unpreparedness had led them to become earthbound and seek a host body.

Later today, I listened to Samuel Barber’s Adagio of Strings (1938) that peaked in a luminous interlude, the strings shimmering in light: it felt like spirits rejoicing in their ascension. God does have a way of working things out …

Let us remember the Champlain Tower victims, especially those stuck in transition, and their loved ones in prayer.

A garden listens, tensed by pulsating rhythms of the underworld, by winter’s bitterness succumbing to spring.

Moist soil engages spidery roots of tulip bulbs.

Fresh shoots, forced from wintry graves, resemble punks’ greased hair.

March winds dampen tentative greens like children forgetting their lines.

Weeks pass.

Spiked blades pattern the garden like players on chessboards.

Hard nubs stretch like infants flailing rubbery limbs.

April suns toast the nubs, urging them to spring from earth’s closet.

Flickers of color expand and soften the petals.

Red-yellow tulips have returned!


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