This has been stewing in my brain most of the weekend, so I'm getting it out now:
A few months ago, I found out through a college alumni magazine that one of my old friends who I'd lost touch with over the years had passed away. I wrote a blog post about it called "you will be okay." May I amend that? After recent events, I feel the need to amend that post.
Some people I know of have recently been affected by sudden losses of loved ones or final good-byes after long illnesses. I am not close to any of these people, but I am watching some things play out on social media and my heart is just broken for them. Saying good-bye and letting someone go is the hardest part of being a human being.
And some other people I know have just gotten really sucky news and a rocky journey is beginning for them and their loved ones, and I can tell it's really scary and making them sad. Others I know are dealing with the "first" everything--the first Thanksgiving without their dear person, the first Hanukkah or Christmas, the first birthday, the first whatever. I remember the first Thanksgiving after my dad died, staring at his empty chair at the table. The huge empty feeling that everything looked normal but nothing felt normal. This was not normal. This was not okay. Actually, every holiday is sort of like that--I wonder each year: where are you, Dad? are you okay? are you sad that you're missing all of this? ARE you missing all of this, or are you right here? i hope you're right here and you're not missing any of this.
Some years I just think these questions quickly and quietly and the day goes by all crazy and loud and I end up falling asleep and obladee obladah Life goes on. Sometimes I go to the room that still contains some left over things of his, because I've always felt favorite "things" maintain an essence of us even after we're long gone, and I sit, surrounded by his essence, meditating on these questions.
This is a hard time of year.
So I was thinking about that post I wrote, and I started rolling my eyes at myself. When I wrote all that, was I doing to someone out there what some well-meaning but thoughtless people did to me when my dad died? (Example #1 of what not to do or say to the grieving: do NOT, under any circumstances, go to the viewing of a passed away colleague and suggest to his weeping daughter as she stands by his lifeless body in the coffin that, as soon as everyone leaves the viewing, that she should just go ahead and have the funeral home remove all that fancy suit tie business from her father's dead body because what the hell did he need it for now anyway. .....Do not do this. Do NOT.) (If there really is karmic justice, hopefully the man who said that to me is naked in his coffin at his viewing, and people walk up to his grieving family and say things like "Put some damn clothes on him, for god's sake are you nuts!")
When we lose people we love, of course we are not okay. Nothing will ever be okay, ever again. I think what I meant to say in that other post was: eventually, the pain will dull and you will get used to how that feels. This life will become the new normal. When your beloved friend or family member was here physically, that was Life with them. When they go, you learn to navigate Life after them. And one day, someone else will leave you, and there will be a new normal to get used to. Or you will leave, and you will have a totally new normal to navigate. New everything (hopefully there will be endless buffets of sweets and food and drink and not a single gym or doctor in sight because weight gain and disease don't exist...also, hopefully every day is Saturday and we all live on Bora Bora in one of those over the lagoon huts with the see through floors. But then, that's my heaven).
The pain never really ever goes away. People stay with us for a long, long time. My dad is always in my mind and my heart, somewhere. I think when people leave us for whatever is out there, they take pieces of us with them and they leave holes in our hearts that never fill back in.
If this is you, and you are missing someone right now, I think they're with you in some way or another...and I also think you are with them. Pieces of you. Essences of your souls' light--both of you, and all of those who loved them and they loved. Or energy and force of motion, for all you science-y atheist-y types out there. Whatever. The point is that, I don't know where we go or what happens to us when this part of our experience is over for us. But I do know that I sometimes feel my dad with me, even 14-15 years after his death. When he first left, I couldn't NOT think about him. Now, whole weeks go by without me thinking of him. My life has resumed with high times and low times and stresses and mundane life worries and all that.
But when I do think of him, it is always duly noted that something important is going on and the thought: he should be here, he would love this pops into my head. ....or nothing important is going on, and for no reason I just suddenly I think of him and miss him so viscerally I stop whatever I'm doing and let him know he's missed and that I hope he's okay.
Because I think they visit us, when these things happen. I don't think our loved ones come back all Jacob Marley visiting Scrooge or anything like that; I think the Universe works far more subtly than that. I think dreams and memories and sudden thoughts or just deep longings for someone--those are the visits. And I don't care if you're a party pooper atheist rolling your eyes at that, I just don't care. I think they visit us, because I think they have pieces of us with them and we have pieces of them with us, that once our souls have mingled our Lights are together. Forever. Like cosmic starlight finally reaching us, millenia after the star it came from died. Time and space are fluid like that and so, I think, are we.
However. You won't be okay, yet you will be. Does that make sense? We get used to the new normal. And sometimes, our lost ones visit us. Or we them. The lingering pieces of our light and love, the base notes of the human soul, find each other again because that is their nature.
Hey, do you need some good causes to help for the 2014 holiday season? Here are two I personally know of right now:
College for Shelby
Those are both good ways to bring some light and love to the world right now.