Saturday, February 27, 2010

Love and Death


These days have been sad for me.  Very sad...and rightly so.

My parents are changing - aging quickly - growing closer to death. My father actively so in these moments. They are suffering.  Having been a twosome since they were 16 - Jo and Lo - one can only imagine what they have been through together.

My Dads' is the more obvious passing as he withers daily.  My Mom hangs in there and serves - and worries - and rallys - and serves some more.  I wonder at the worry she has carried all her life.  Would that I could take some of it from her - and yet - for better or worse, I have been the cause of much of it, so she says.

How formidable is fear when the thing feared most is staring at someone who lives life with faith as their guide?  How does one reconcile their own child living and breathing in it, while you (as the parent) look always for a more tangible reason for living - one that makes more "sense."

If only I had acted less the mystic I might have offered more to the god of fear - and pleased them.

I might have seemed more...normal.

Yet - I did not.

I stepped up and out (and often in front) especially when it scared me silly - like that first day of first grade when I bolted into school and ran up the endless marble stairs so fast that I alone burst out onto the roof! Can you imagine my shock pushing open the big, heavy door and finding wide-open blue sky?! 

In many ways it feels comforting for me to remember that moment, as if it set the stage for open sky to be my companion throughout life.  This is one of the experiences we might have shared if you were called 'different' yourself ...and the sky above would feel safer and sounder than all the money in the bank or 100 pedigrees and titles.

Another thing you would notice would be a penchant for peace; a deep need to create; or perhaps a wild desire rising within you when you sang out your song or danced your dance.  You would know it when you felt it, and know who you are...and it would be as right as rain.
So I've been reading about Love... and Death... and as it happens, I happily found the exact right words to offer me solace as I go into this experience of loosing the foothold of parents alive, and the big open sky before me again. (Thanks Bill) 

The following words are from the book of the same name Love & Death: My Journey Through the Valley of the Shadow by the soulful Unitarian minister Forrest Church, a deeply spiritual but always practical visionary who is a preacher, a poet and a man who calls us "to live life in such a way that our lives will prove worth dying for."

I have synopsized these passages from a series of meditations he wrote and adapted from two other of his twenty-four books (Life Lines and Lifecraft) offering them again for his readers upon learning that he was dying from esophogeal cancer.  He likened life to The Titanic and the iceberg it inevitably met.



"We are all here together in this extraordinary ship - different classes, yes - and not enough lifeboats - but when it comes to death there are never enough lifeboats.  The menus do not matter, nor do the size of our accommodations, not really - not finally. Neither does the speed our ship is going, or the weather, or ports of call.  

The ship is magnificent but one day it will sink.  It always sinks.  All hands will be lost.  

If we forget how dangerous the waters are, spending our lives rearranging deck chairs to catch the sun, we set up our lives to do only one important thing: watch them pass before our drowning eyes.

I admit, crossing on the Titanic, I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself very much just worrying …there is something to be said for routine, for semi consciousness, even for hiding.  That something is safety.  It may be an illusion, but it can be a sustained and useful illusion for a very long time. 

The over- planned life lacks wonder and spontaneity. We can want to be so safe that passion and connection are sometimes forgotten, as we choose from the wine list or worry about coming storms. 

The Titanic is a morality play, one not that different from Noah’s Flood or the fall from Eden.  By definition, morality plays teach us to be careful – but if all we ever learn in being careful is to not take chances, we will always be in the audience, and never onstage.

In other words, if life is a cruise, nine times out of ten, it will not be an adventure.  I have seen that some of you who come for counseling over the years are so wrapped up in your own and your parents underwear that I sometimes wonder if you will ever get out – if you will ever get naked.

The harder we work to get things exactly right the more cautious we become…the more careful not to fail.  Risking nothing, we stand to gain little beyond the security of a battened-down existence. 

We will know little failure - or have only “little failures” - but consider the cost.  If you are hiding to be safe, taking care not to be wrong, I commend you to ignore life’s dangers just as readily as you protect yourselves from them.

Often our most important actions are so fraught with danger that we will surely never get them exactly right, and if we don’t fire before we can take perfect aim – we may never fire at all. 

Life is fraught with danger. That is just the way it is.

Finally, the Titanic always hits the iceberg.  Hence this simple, if imprudent, bit of advice: take a few chances. Make the phone call. Pick up the gauntlet; do whatever it takes.  

Dare to live before you die.” 


So be it and so it is.  Namaste everyone...


Nancy L Wolf said...

Gael, this was esp. beautiful to me, as you know my husband is dying from cancer and so what you are experiencing with your parents( which I am as well.. dad is 90 and mom 91 and she is in a RN home) I am experiencing with Bill. Thank you for this site and as always your beauty in how you see the world. ps: I was always "different" too! Love Nancy Wolf

Yokibics said...

Thank you for your kind words Nancy - and for your strength!! It is incredible that you are holding all three of them in your grieving heart all at once. Blessings to you on the journey. Namaste.

SoberBlogger said...

Gael, there is so much grace in your words and in what you share from Forrest. Thank you for your honesty and your wisdom.
May you continue to walk with your parents through this valley time, being present for them and being faithful to who you are.
And may all of you trust that Love might fill in the spaces between you.
love and blessings, Ken

Yokibics said...

Ahhh Ken - a benediction my friend, gratefully received.