At a major life event the large questions occur. What is love? What does it mean to love? What are the larger patterns in my life? What do I really want? How do I go on after a loss of a person close to me? What is my relationship to others, to the world, to the universe? Etc. Death lends perspective, an opportunity to consider life from a very big picture viewpoint.
I have returned home from my friend’s funeral. I am rapidly being re-enveloped into the details, nitty-gritty, dramas, needs and wants of my life. There are diapers to be changed, food to be made. I notice the condition of the carpet and think or worry about when I’m going to have time to vacuum. There are questions great and small from the children. It is hard to find a moment to breathe, to consider. It’s very easy to lose touch with the larger considerations that were occupying my mind and heart so recently.
So how do you interweave the two? How do you bring forward into the tapestry of your daily life the lessons learned, the questions asked, the connections made during the intensity and expanded feeling of the big life event?
I think that one part of the answer is actually to dive in, to engage even more fully in the present moment of diapers and questions and watering plants and doing laundry and reading books to my kids, despite my wish to pull away and keep hold of the more elevated state of heart that I felt when with my friends over the past couple of days.
Another part is to find moments during the day to re-engage with the broader perspective. Doing dishes doesn’t just have to be a task. It can also be an opportunity for contemplation.
And one thing I am contemplating is, what does it actually look like to allow the death of my friend and the subsequent connections with my friends in that community to change my present life? What changes will I make? What do I invite in or let go as a result of my recent experience?
One concrete thing I’ve come away with is a desire to spend more time with my friends. There are ways to make that happen, now that Friday nights are my time off (instead of Sunday mornings). We’ve all stated our desire to keep in touch. That might be phone calls, Skype sessions, email. It is having a few more friends on Facebook. It might be buying a pack of greeting cards and sending them off to say a quick hello. It might be arranging trips. I want to make room in my life for actually going to see people. Twenty-five years is way, way too long.
I think it also might mean changing a few of my daily habits to make more time for meditation, contemplation, writing. That might mean less Scrabble, and less computer time. It might mean having a pad of paper somewhere convenient so that if I need to scribble down an idea in the middle of family chaos there’s somewhere to do it.
I think it also means more eye contact, more sharing of tears and smiles, more stopping to be in the present moment rather than rushing off to the next thing.
It means a huge and constant amount of personal work. It means allowing for the enormous complexity of five people living together in one house, accepting the discomfort along with the connection.
I think it means taking time to remember, to light a candle in B’s memory, and for all the others who are not here now. I think it means taking time to think of and extend loving thoughts toward the ones who are here, close or far. Not being a practitioner of religion, I don’t know but suspect that the practice of prayer for those who are religious fills this need to some extent.
We have stopped doing highs and lows at night. I want to do them again, but to broaden the conversation to allow for remembrance or anything else that our family members need to say.
And I think it means having the faith that even if there’s no room in the current moment for thought and processing, there will be later. I don’t need to fear the chaos as long as we also make room for quiet and peace and prioritize it in our daily lives.
B believed in the supernatural. She was a person of faith, though the nature of her faith changed from what she learned in her childhood. The poetry we read at her funeral was about angels. She lived with an active connection to the bigger picture, a higher plane if you like. I want to use her example to remind me to cultivate my connection to the life around me.
I promise myself that I’ll continue my contemplations with heart and mind.
And now it’s time to take Hazel out for a Mommy-Hazel date.