Today was the day I've been dreading.
Today was the day I’ve been dreading.
It’s been 1 week since my Nana died and 1 month since my friend Ali died.
And today was Ali’s Memorial.
Why have I been dreading it?
Because I imagined it would bring even more grief if possible.
I imagined it would feel like my heart was being ripped out of my chest to finalize her death this way. I imagined having to put on a sunny face as I stood at the podium and read her story, greeted guests, held space for her family, etc. I imagined that being together with the rest of our group, Ali’s Angels as she named us, those of us that cared for her around the clock in her last months, would put me over the edge, and I would dissolve into a salty puddle, never to crystallize back into a solid, functioning human being.
And some of those things did happen.
But I am still here, still alive, still breathing.
And the world, somehow, is still turning.
We laid our sweet Ali to rest at the base of a young maple tree, facing the glorious Rocky mountains, running water, and fields of green under the big blue Colorado sky. Us angels, we put in notes of love, Tibetan prayers and the end of an era of our lives- our lives caring for Ali, in the ground with her ashes. We stood in a line, arms wrapped around each other, tears streaming down our faces and sang to her one last time, “you are my sunshine.”
It was truly a glorious day. It was moving, and gut-wrenching, and heart opening and the end of a time in my life that has changed me forever.
And it was the beginning of a different kind of time.
A time of unchartered territory.
How do I wake up each day, and love Ali and my Nana in their formlessness? How do I hold the sweetness of our time together, the deep searing ache of missing them, and the confusion of the pain in both relationships as well? The pain of the suffering they both had, the pain of not being able to fix or save either one and the pain between our hearts- the pain of not always feeling close, understood, accepted, etc…you know, the human relational stuff. I don’t know. I truly don’t know. But I am still breathing. And I am letting my body, the earth, the sky, my dance- breathe me. I have been literally shocked at how much the simple act of breathing has helped. I mean we read about it, talk about it, etc…it almost seems cliche at this point to say “just breathe.” If someone gave me that advice, I'd probably give them the finger. And yet, that’s what I’m doing. I’m just breathing. Thank Buddha I'm breathing. I hope you are too.
Thanks for listening to my tale, it helps so much to write it and know you’ll read it. Here’s to you- no matter what you’re going through, may you always breathe and be breathed. And may you give me or anyone else the finger when you hear those words- may you find it yourself.