The Midnight Sun
The Good Life
Take me. I'm yours.
The Way Home
We Take Care of Our Own
The Holy Days
Fall On Me
Bringing It All Back Home
Learn to Be Still
Love the One You're With
|"Everything dies, baby, that's a fact. But everything that dies, one day, comes back."|
Five years ago today, my father crossed over into the spirit world. As often is the case, it's hard to believe. Right outside my window my great life teacher tells me everything I need to know. Its bright yellow, orange leaves burst with an even greater sense of splendor against the grey backdrop of the day. Such is how life stands with death, it tells me, life's brightness boldly alive while death darkens its canvas. Now a gentle wind blows and the next set of leaves fall. One comes all the way over to me and brushes up against the window. I smile at its intelligence. Effortlessly, they let go and gracefully take their final bow before returning to Mother Earth. And now, seemingly no breeze and still a leaf falls, independent, ready to go on its own. Free falling.
I've never liked the use of the word "anniversary" to name the yearly date of someone's death. It feels like an oxymoron, two words forced together, colliding into a mixed bag of happiness (anniversary) and sadness (of death). I lay in bed thinking about the choices I have. I can forget about it, go about my business, staying in the moment and out of the past. Given that I'm already remembering it, forgetting seems unrealistic. Then there's mourning the day, putting a focus on this idea of death and mentally going back to that most traumatic and painful day, October 6 2008. The idea of activating those corresponding emotions seems cruel and unnecessary. I'm already mentally working on staying unattached to those acute memories that are already floating to the surface, particularly the one in which we are all waiting for my father's next exhale. It never came.
Watching change happen outside my window, a third option reveals itself and that's consciously creating a new way to be with the day. And so I begin with the power of ritual.
I light the candle next to our picture and smile, remembering what a joyful night it was, surprising my parents and flying in to New Jersey for the millennium New Year.
I light this candle, here, next to the family picture from my father's 80th birthday, the last one he celebrated with us and the best one he ever had, a wish fulfilled to have all his family around him.
And this one next to the picture of the proud Korean veteran, standing at attention, still serving his country in the privacy of his heart, even though it cost him his hearing.
Finally the one closest to me to acknowledge that my father has been present these last couple of months as I move through big changes in my life. I have called on him to help me and I have sensed, felt and heard his presence daily. Energetically, this seems to be the best place for me today, realizing that my father lives the eternal life, that we're both made of stardust only I'm still a attached to the tree of life. My wind has not yet blown.
It has taken me all this time to walk through the Valley of Death, to not only find my way to terra firma once again but to choose to live as bright and bold a life as the birch tree outside my window. Even though I have learned to stretch the canvas of life wide enough to include death, its grey clouds and dark hallways forever remind me that to live as if I'm dying is the greatest way to truly live.
The wind blows again. Another group of leaves float towards the others gathered below the birch's trunk. At this rate, today could be the day that she bares herself, stands naked in the center of life, proclaiming her willingness. An automatic sadness rises in me as I feel the end of something and the beginning of something else. Dying so as to be born, again and again. I notice my preference for what was and a resistance to the inevitable. I decide to clear such a thought and the emotion that comes with it. I hear Springsteen's song in my head, "Everything dies, baby, that's a fact. But everything that dies, one day, comes back." The wheel of life turns again.
Thank you, birch tree, for teaching me how to release and let go with grace, how to trust the inherent wisdom of Life itself while rejoicing that one day, next spring, you'll be back in a new form, one that will be familiar to me, the same tree though born again. Much like my father, I see you now and I'll see you then.