Recently, I have been dealing with the deep sadness of watching loved ones go through grief. The layers are many. First there is the loss of my own expectations of seeing that sweet person filled with joy through the promises to come.
The “supposed to” and “It is your job to” also comes into it as well. We break upon the rocks of expectation so frequently. What we want most in life is to see those we raise and nurture to step confidently into life. What we want most is for those we have brought into the world to be somehow safe from the bruising of reality, restriction and restlessness. And death. How do we protect them from death and loss?
Yesterday, was a heavy day when the end of a dream came to my family member. I found that I could not manage doing much. My mind constantly went back to allowing. “Just allow yourself to feel sad,” I would say. “Just allow the dark heart to be.” I would occasionally breathe out slow releasing the tension from my body.
But the other layers came into play as always. The ego is so good at creating a mummified creature by wrapping layers of narrative around and around an already distressing event. The stories of failure, mine, theirs, his, its, the world’s, the universe’s just kept wrapping around me. Then came the swaddling of future narratives…. life is so sad that this will happen, and this, and this.
The inside of my Dark Knight Rises mind movie lead me to just crawl into bed. I prayed. I did some deep breathing but the parasite fear was so firmly attached that I could do nothing but be with it.
I thought about death. I thought about the time I had lost half of the blood in my body and floated above the hospital recovery room to hear a nurse screaming about somebody being gone and a doctor rushing over. I thought about spinning around on the Coquihalla with the sides of the car being crushed in first on one side of the highway and then the other as a semi truck was weaving behind trying not to end lives. I thought about my cancer operations and the feeling of waking up every morning to the realization that I might die soon.
I thought about the friends and family who have passed. So many of those I have loved, who were part of the holographic identity of myself that I had constructed, are in spirit now.
And the grief. The grief of being in a body. The grief of others who cannot help their loved ones no matter how much they wish to reach out and take that burden upon themselves. The overwhelming sadness of knowing that inevitably the price of being alive is to experience the multitudinous ways in which we are limited by our own belief systems about what it is to be alive.
Finally, I thought of how each of us deserves comfort. Each of us deserves arms that will wrap around the body that we walk around in; the body that delights us; the body that condemns us. The warmth of being held for all we are, for all of our failures, all of our un-enlighted moments, all of our inability to go beyond our own limitations of thought. Just held in love.
It is the only way to make sense of this lesson of life and grief and death: that there is, finally, love.
I slept with my arms around sadness
I slept with my arms around grief.
I lay down with prayers for my loved ones
finding, words spoken in darkness
finding, a way to believe.