When death comes around it is nearly impossible to focus on anything else. Loss covers you like a dark blanket, and you just hide in that cave… Every once in a while you peek from underneath the thickness of grief to see if it is safe to go back out. “Not yet” will be the answer for a while.
The initial state of shock might prevent the ability to function in the realm of the living. You find yourself drifting away into the ether. Your feet barely touch the ground. The simplest activities, like driving or cooking, require so much more focus. It is hard to place your attention on earthly matters when you experience a loved one dissolving into eternity.
My childhood best friend lost her mother recently… And so my mom lost her deepest soul friend, and I lost my second mom – my “spirit mama” – the woman who taught me about homeopathy and telepathy and lavender and macrobiotic food and reincarnation and meditation, the woman that opened up the door to the alternative, holistic pathways of my life. My heart goes out to my friend. My heart breaks for my mom. My heart bleeds when I think that I will never hear her voice again, or hold her hand again, or see her smile again.
When death comes around, everywhere you look you see the person that you lost. You keep seeing them on the street, in the store, at the market. Your heart skips a beat. And then their form melts and becomes the stranger that you’re staring at. Just the other day I saw a woman putting on lipstick in the car next to me at a stoplight. I had just picked my daughter up from school and was driving home, and there she was… It was only a few days after she passed. She held the lipstick in her hand and brought it towards her mouth, ever so slowly and delicately applying it onto her lips. There was a particularity to her movement and her action – It was Iris. And then it wasn’t.
When I go outside I hear her as the wind blowing through the trees. I see her in the layers of clouds in the sky. I feel her as the earth beneath my feet and as the air on my skin. Her form slowly dissolves into formless and she merges with everything else.
For a week after her death, whenever I closed my eyes in meditation, I kept having this image of a twisty, windy trail, with candles lit on both sides of the road all the way till you can no longer see the path. And I see her back, she’s walking away, holding the hand of my childhood self. And we’re laughing and talking about deep, meaningful, mystical things like we used to.
When death comes around memories will flood your world. The past will mix with the currents of your current self and take you on a ride through a sea of emotions and through different stages of grief. Sadness. Guilt. Anger. Disbelief. Numbness. Sometimes you will find yourself laughing. And then tears will follow and fill the room with silence again.
A few days after her passing, there was a wild wind storm. My little girl and I started to collect nature offerings on our walks through the neighborhood. On the weekend, my husband joined our inspired mission. Every fallen leaf and broken branch reminded me of my friend’s mom.
Watching Autumn casting its spell on the plant world makes the shedding of the trees seem like a generous, loving gifting act… For in the falling, in the surrender, in the release of its aliveness into the earth, the tree offers its seeds, and initiates the possibility of new creation. And nature again reveals her dance of life and death as a fabric that is eternally woven together.
Our little family gathered to make a Mandala out of the treasures that we gathered. It was a sacred and meaningful ceremony of creativity, collaboration, and connection. Our daughter Kesem, who is a couple of months shy of four, said: “Wow! This looks like the Sun!” She was so into the ritual of mindfully placing the objects that we so meaningfully collected. She was inspired by the sense of sacredness. When we finished, the three of us (plus Gracie, the dog) stood around our art piece quietly. After a few moments Kesem began to chant the Gayatri mantra. What amazes me about it is that she doesn’t know yet that the Gayatri mantra is a chant for the sun and for its illuminating power. It was profound. I feel the light of my friend’s mom illuminating my life and my relationship with death through her departure from her physical form. Grateful. Inspired. Moved. Shaken. Enlivened. Goodbye Iris! Thank you for all those years of familyhood of the heart. I will miss you so much!