Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wish Death Would Take a Holiday

Gloria, Mildred, Bob, Nona, Leon, Floyd, Leroy, Tony, Grover, Brandon, Alvin, two Donnas. There are others...
Life is precious.
It’s hard to think about, let alone write. But everyone gets their turn at this, I reckon – experiencing a flurry of deaths like I have over the last 12 months or so. Relatives; close friends of relatives; relatives of close friends. So many have passed. It’s a painful blur.
               I'm weary. For me there have been too many deaths in too short a period. So many back to back funerals, and it has resulted in an overload of grief. Too many times I’ve been recently made to experience the final chapter of someone important to me. Or important to someone who is important to me. My heartache is as much for the living as it is for the dead.
Tree of life.
               I’m not the only one who feels this way. There are plenty of others experiencing their own suffering associated with death. And I’ll wager many of those passings hold far deeper impact than what I’m going through right now. I’ve seen their faces.
               Oh, in my mind I know death is a natural consequence of life, and that sooner or later it will claim us all, blah, blah... That’s of little comfort right now. Dying. I have no fear of it for myself (at least in this moment). Instead, I have significant concerns about those around me as it relates to their own passing. These misgivings have to do with my own selfish way of thinking. When friends and family are no longer around, I lose pleasure of spending time with them. No more laughing, crying, joking, fighting, struggling, achieving – in other words, sharing life and ‘simply’ being. I’m all about relationships.
               Like most folks, I hold a belief system that helps me think of the afterlife in positive ways. Admittedly, it's difficult to keep that in mind though, especially when I prefer to keep those special someone’s with me in the here and now.
Highway to heaven.
               Still, I find solace in the fact that by attending funerals I bear witness to expressions of love that are largely absent in people during their daily lives. So in some ways these ceremonies, though difficult, are comforting. That’s because of the closeness I experience with people, some of whom I rarely get to see yet are ultimately important to me. To join them in this physical way, combined with a mental and spiritual connection associated with the passing of someone dear, feels rare.
               Ultimately, I believe death balances life. When losing loved ones, I look to nature as a place for understanding of life. What it teaches me is there is a sequence to how we exist, or rather come to exist and then no longer exist in this world. Many refer to it as the cycle of life, and I guess that description is good enough for me.
Thank God for new beginnings.
               What can sometimes be hard to accept is that there are going to be some periods when I witness more than my share of deaths. At the same time, there will be times when there will be long gaps when it may not personally touch my friends and relatives at all.
              There’s another, brighter side and in this moment I’m not referring to ‘the other side.’ Instead I’m speaking of the here and now. I've got to remember the goodbyes I’ve been issuing this year are being balanced with new arrivals; the start of other relationships. Newborns as well as new or renewed acquaintances. The key is to be open to the possibilities.
               A familiar bible passage offers me comfort: To everything there is a season.

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