Tag Archives: death

The Beauty of Impermanence.

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It’s pretty common for me to get into a routine about certain things in my world. Often times, on a Saturday morning, I will go for a walk, by myself or with my wife, at Lake Scranton near our home. This morning was particularly beautiful, and although I wanted to get out and take a walk, the Lake was not calling to me; however, Nay Aug Park was. I drove over there and started out on the Davis Trail, and as soon as I saw this deadening tree I understood why I was pulled. 

The previous evening, my wife had given me a sweater that had belonged to her sister, Diane, my soul sister, who died unexpectedly two months ago. I had felt deep emotion, after giving hugs all evening around the city, when she told me that she wanted me to have it. In that moment, I not only missed Diane’s presence in my 3D life, but I was more acutely aware of impermanence, and how that is true for All Things, human and otherwise. As I walked on the Davis Trail, I saw this tree, and realized that I was deepening that lesson. And more was to come.

I could choose to either stay on the dirt trail, or to walk toward the waterfalls and hike on the rocks. I decided that the rocks felt like the place to be today. As I walked down the steps toward the water, I was aware of how present and mindful I needed to be with each step; there was a hard frost last night, and the steps, leaves, and rocks were slippery. Again, the idea of impermanence, the fleeting nature of things, and my own temporary nature came to me. 

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I walked along the rocks, large and small, and sat for a few minutes in the crisp morning air, listening to the water running beside me. I kept walking along the brook, and up the hill toward the other end of the trail. As I got back on the Davis Trail, I found a makeshift memorial, underneath the treehouse. There were candles, flowers, and messages. Again, this lesson speaks to me

 

Every image that I encountered about impermanence- a sweater, a deadening tree, the memorial- had radiant beauty to it. Whether in its appearance, its heart feeling, or its intention, the beauty of each part shone through. This stayed with me as I left the park, and remembered yet again how temporary we all are, as well as everything around us. To some, and to me for much of my life, that knowing would bring to me a deep sense of fear and anticipation. Today, it reminds me of the essential way in which I want to approach my life, as often as possible: In the Present Moment. To be right here, right now, without memory or anticipation, I get to enjoy the deep beauty of what is, and also remember that it is only here Now, and will never be again. It reminds me of the grace of gratitude in my world and how it opens me up to many new, wondrous things. That our fleeting nature reminds me of how I always, in all phases, a part of the whole. A beginning from and returning to the Source.

And, that beauty exists in each portion of our world, no matter where it is at in its evolution. 

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The House of Ruth.

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Dear Ruthie:

Today, I miss you so much. I am thinking of so many things that I long for about you; and the parts that I love in you the most.  So many things. So many beautiful, warm memories. 

I miss your laugh. When you would laugh really hard, you would close your eyes, throw your head back just a bit, and open your mouth up. It was a soft, hearty laugh and it always made me smile.

I miss your voice. Your voice, the way that I would hear it, would be soft in its volume and tone, yet firm in its intention. I always knew us to be honest with one another, which has been a great blessing to me in my life. 

I miss our talks, for hours and hours when I would visit you. Sometimes, I would be going through something really big in my life, and you would listen to me talk on the porch, or at the dining room table. Other times, you would tell me your thoughts about life, and things going on with me, and celebrate with me the joys in my world. You always understood me, and stood for me. I will never forget that.

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I miss your generosity. You would send off a surprise card, a present, a thought of me whenever it struck you. And, it would always be an unexpected joy that never stopped delighting me. The turtle lamp that you gave to Brenda and I lights up our room each night. I think of you always when looking at that.

I miss our Dunkin’ Donuts runs when I would visit you. For you, DD was such a special treat, and you would treat whoever was with you as well, to the fare of their choice. Pumpkin spice coffee, with two sugars and cream, and a breakfast sandwich of one sort or another, with hash browns. I had a cup of DD pumpkin spice coffee yesterday and thought of you the whole time.

I miss your hands. Your hands were always so beautiful to me. They looked so soft, and pure, and untouched, yet they were strong and capable. I loved holding your hands in mine no matter what the circumstance or occasion. They felt like home to me.

I miss being in your house with you, in the morning quiet before you would get up, in the evening while we would talk or you would watch baseball, during the day as you would take Josh out for yard time. I miss every little and and big thing about you. Some days, it really hits me that you have died and I can’t be in your arms again. Not now, anyway. I cry a bit, I think of you as I look at your picture, and then, it passes by and I feel at peace once more. No matter how close the pain feels, you have changed my life in such a way that I will never forget it. 

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I love you. xo  Nessa 

Grief.

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I have spent the last several days experiencing and thinking about grief. About what it is, and what it is not. About my own grief and how I express it, now in my life, and in the past. I am amazed and at peace at what I seem to be discovering.

 

When I was in college, my grandmother, my father’s mother, died after being ill for a long time with cancer. I had spent school vacations at her home for years, kept her secrets of eating forbidden foods at lunch, and laughed with her. I was so sad, and hurt, and lost when she died. I didn’t want it to be true. I didn’t want to care about college classes anymore, for months. I thought about her all of the time and couldn’t envision a life without her physical presence in it. 

 

Ten years later, my older brother died, after a long illness. He lived on the west coast, so he was far away and I hadn’t seen him in years. Our relationship had been very close for a period of time in my life, but his last few months had been strained between us. I was the person that he had his caretakers call to report his death. It was surreal and a deep hurt. I grieved in many ways when he died. I cried, a lot at first. I felt guilt at our being somewhat estranged. I felt anger that he had me be the one that had to tell my parents that he had died. And, I felt like a martyr, in a way. I wore my grief like a shroud, feeling very embedded in it. That lasted for a long time. 

 

There have been many persons that I have known since then, friends or family, that had died. My responses to each one have been different. Yet, none so different as the deaths of two persons in my life in literally the last three weeks. First, my beloved aunt, my aunt Ruth, who was as close to me as a family member as my own parents. She lived with my grandparents when I was growing up, and I spent those school vacations with her as well, and many happy times after that. I would go up to her house for a weekend, just to spend time and talk with her. Her heart was so open and filled with love. I thought she would be around awhile longer, if not forever. Her death has been hard to bear, although manageable at the same time.

 

Only a few days after her death, my father in law, my wife’s father, died. I had not had the opportunity to build a longstanding, deep relationship with Ben, but I had felt a deep fondness and love for him, and enjoyed our times together. He gave Brenda away at our wedding. He had many of his own demons, yet I saw the light in him that was love, even though he didn’t see it in himself, it seemed.

 

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What grief represents to me now in my world is much different than I have ever experienced before. Even though we may share grief and the expression of it with others that are close to us, grief feels very personal to me; meaning, my feelings of loss are not going to be like anyone else’s about the person, as no one else’s will be like mine. In essence, I can feel whatever I feel, without any need to compare myself to others. I get to just move through it in the most loving, gentle way that I can. I also don’t feel like I have to express it in any certain way. Whatever seems to help me and bring me comfort and support feels right.

 

Grief also looks like Peace to me now. I don’t know how to best explain that, except that even when I am sad that my aunt Ruth is gone, or longing to spend another day with Ben, I feel at Peace when I accept things just as they are. Accept that they are absent. Accept that I miss them at times. Accept that life will go on without both of them in this physical realm. Letting Go and Acceptance bring me Peace. Bring me comfort. And are deep expressions of Love for me.

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The Beauty of Death.

The autumn is in its full splendor in my corner of the world. Golds, browns, orange and red hues are everywhere, and are almost magical to me in their beauty. I am in awe and I love driving and walking through the changing trees. What I find most profound about this process of change, is that the vitality and brilliance that is fall colors is an indication of the end of life, an indication of death.

As I age, I think more frequently about the death of all things. Not just the eventual death of my physical body, or of those that I love. But, the death of all things, whether that is fellow living beings, the ways in which we live our lives, or ideas. In the past, the death or ending of anything was very frightening for me to consider. An ending to me meant that something was lost, gone, or no longer in my world in some way.

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Today, the death of a person, or a way of living feels much different to me. It feels more natural and part of the cycle of birth, death and rebirth. It feels like I have come to an acceptance of the true nature of things. It also has come about as I deepen my appreciation for and the presence to the circumstances that are my life. For much of my life, I have been what I would describe as a happy person, but have approached it almost as a routine- the same day most every day. I wanted to believe that life could be relied upon to unfold with certainty and predictability. I wasn’t very spontaneous and didn’t much like surprises. I also lived in the future much of the time, making plans and expressing ideas for what I wanted to come next.

I am acutely aware now, that all we ever have is this moment.  Right now.  Life only happens now, not at any other time. As I connect more deeply each day to my essence, the core of who I really am, I shine the Light of that essence more brightly out into the world. I understand also that Light to be Infinity and Eternity.  I know that all that is, is as it should be, and since all of us are from the same Source, the same Light, we are and always will be part of and with one another.  There is no death or loss in that way. I believe that the further along as humans we are to the end of our physical form, the closer that we feel that death is, and yet, the more brightly our true essence, our Light, is able to shine through.

Just like the autumn leaves show their brilliance as their physical form is dying, so to can we as humans, shine our Light more brightly, radiate our true essence, no matter how many breaths there are left within us. Connecting with that infinite, eternal essence is simply remembering who we really are.

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Surrender and Peace.

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This week, we discovered a new type of bird in our yard, by the way that it chirped. It is a Northern Flicker, a bird that is in the woodpecker family. We have many types of birds that spend time in our yard, and make their presence known every morning. Its colors are bright, and nature like, and its chirp sounds loud, declarative and playful.

One evening, we heard the cry of an animal outside after dark, but couldn’t see what it was. When we went outside, one of our cats had a Northern Flicker on the ground. After chasing the cat away, we went to check on the bird. It was lying on the ground, appearing to not be able to fly. We tried to move it, by picking it up with the dustpan and broom to put it somewhere safely. Every time we attempted to move it, it screamed and cried. We felt so helpless, yet we knew that it was possibly hurt beyond our help. We decided to leave it there, and let nature run its course, whatever that may mean.

As I got ready to go inside, I looked closely at this little creature. Its tiny eyes were blinking every few seconds, and I could see its chest slowly moving up and down as it was breathing. It looked calm, on its back, wings tucked in. It looked peaceful.

The word that mostly came to me was Surrender.

The word surrender does not mean defeat, and it doesn’t even mean giving up, at least in my mind. Surrender, what I saw in this beautiful creature, meant a letting go. It meant acceptance. Accepting and honoring that we need do nothing, just let things unfold as they are intended.

I have a hard time with surrender. I still believe at times that the harder that I hang onto something, the more likely that I will be able to influence or dictate the outcome. That theory never works well for me, and in the process, I feel as far from peaceful as I can be. I feel anxious, edgy, and controlling when I hold onto something for dear life. I am scared and wanting things to be a certain way, focused on future or past.

However, when I let go, when I realize that there is nothing that I need to do in this moment, that all is well, I feel calm. I feel peaceful. I feel no fear, and have a deep understanding that things are just as they should be. That I don’t have to be the expert, or the fixer, or to take care of anything.

The other benefit for me in choosing surrender, is that I don’t then need to feel compelled to believe my way is the only way to view things, that I am the expert, that I am the one that knows what is best. When I let go, and am peaceful within, I can not only accept my situation, but more easily accept where others are at as well, without judgment or fear. I can just let others BE.

The morning after finding that bird, when we woke up we discovered that another creature in our yard had killed the bird, and its feathers were all over the yard. Remnants were here and there. Yet, after leaving it the night before, we never heard another sound. Like it was ready.

Like letting go was what took it to peace and freedom.

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