Living Messages

In the place between asleep and awake, my consciousness is still processing the nether-topics I couldn’t face while I was awake. My mind meditates and sends me symbols to interpret the way the world works and my place in it. I always fit into the in-between with observance and acceptance, with bouts of clarity or sometimes confusion. Around 6am, gentility woke me up with very loud words from the very core of my being, “Its time to grow up.” My mind’s response was, “ok. I’m ready.” It was starkly clear and true, present and undebatable.

I later learned that day that a dear friend had passed away at the same time on that very day. She was not the kind of friend I spoke to often. She was not even a friend of the same age, albeit not above 55. She was integral in my adolescence and so many others as well. She was a friend of my family, my youth and my peers. I was not any more special to her than all of the other people with whom she came into contact. I was one of many, yet I very much felt her genuineness, generosity and care as if it was only addressed to me. It was a talent that generally makes great leaders.

I spent the ceremony welling up and trying to keep strange sounds from eeking from my body. It is all a part of being a lady.

I hesitate to state the circumstances of knowing her as to generalize her death. Listing the tangibles that made up her resume makes it feel impersonal, and she did not live her life or nurture her relationships in that way. I dedicate my practice to her, meditate on her kindness, her magnanimity in spirit.

I don’t find comfort in the theology that believes God needed another angel or that he gave her cancer for any reason. Cancer just sucks. She didn’t need to prove herself, her dedication, confess her sins or do that kind of penance. No one needs to. However, she managed it with as much grace as is humanly possible.

Cancer just happens sometimes. and it sucks.

Good Grief

I saw my neighbor and her dog on Bruno’s walk this morning. We discussed dogs for a while, much like I suspect parents discuss their children. She asked the obligatory, “what do you do again?” I tell her I work in a skilled nursing facility and how it can be sad but also funny at times. She said she imagines it is a dark humor. Humor is important in anything, and I feel that I definitely have a different relationship with death. It is a subject, like race, that is very sensitive to the unfamiliar.

I am reading “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion right now. A perspective on grief, a portrait of relationships and intensely honest experience with death. She speaks about how death has somehow become professional. Death happens in hospitals and nursing homes, everywhere except homes. Didion quotes (of all people) Emily Post. Ms. Post is insightful and gracious, writing during a time when death was present in everyone’s home and family as a part of life. It was relevant. Most readers probably have stopped reading this because they don’t feel it is relevant to them. But Grief is relevant.

Grief from tangible death is something we will all experience, but living grief is perpetual. Whether you are grieving a relationship, an expectation or an innoncence; grief is ever-present. It should be spoken of, instead of avoiding the subject like it is “the-subject-that-must-not-be-named.” That only implies shame and fear. Death should have nothing to do with shame or fear.