Saturday, September 29, 2012

Caring for an Angel II

I read Eve Ensler to you as you drift in and out of conscious awareness, your burgeoning mind eager to sleep.  You nodded yes.  Your awareness drifts from present and then moves swiftly to a place of peace, of newness, of rebirth.

I adjust pillows; I rub your hands and feet, still perfectly manicured bright red.  Your skin is clear and bright, almost glowing, lips still pink and full.  You open your eyes as I sing Amazing Grace along to the CD playing in the corner.

I wish you could go outside to your garden.  I know that is where I would want to be.  In the garden that I created from nothing.  As you have.  This creation that will go on and on.  Life is funny like that in the garden.  Plants fruit, set seed, die and surprise us next spring as they grace us with their beauty once again.

My grandmother’s garden flourished years after she had stopped planting and moved on from her frail body.  I saw tomatoes bursting forth through years of weeds, along with petunias and her favorite snapdragons of my childhood, reseeding each year as if she secretly came in the night while I was sleeping and snuck her favorite flowers into the empty spaces of her once prized garden.

Grandma, I see you stooped over in your housedress, your largess that I always loved to snuggle up to in the summer cottage’s feather beds of my youth.  They now make cardboard cutouts of that same pose and sell them in garden centers.  Your wide, bent over fanny displaying the garden’s name, Carol’s Garden or the Garden of Eden.

Memories are held tightly in the garden, of grandma teaching me how to plant and water, and the picture of my small son squatting between tomato plants, almost hidden, snacking on a ripe fruit he snatched off the plant, juice dripping down his chin.

I know you have these memories, too, my friend and I wish you could spend your last hours in the sun drenched fall garden.  To breathe in the scent of autumn, the leaves browning, the last tomato being harvested off of yellowing plants.  This is my own selfish wish for you.

I hope you feel my presence as you drift.  I rub your feet, place socks on them as they are now chilled.  It’s all I can do and I hope it is enough.  The gift of presence of spirit communing with another spirit.

I am grateful for these last hours.  The details of the hours jump out, normally hidden from our unnoticing healthy world, which we overlook.  The quiet knowing of the dogs, usually hyped up, barking, jumping on everyone, now laying nearby, protecting you as you make your way through this passageway only you can maneuver.  But they guard that invisible pathway.  They know.

A blue, clay cross lays beneath your right hand.  And you dream, asleep like a newborn.  Growth is happening during this slumber and I must believe that your sleep is the food needed as you travel to your next destination, manifesting out of this world into the next.  This requires great energy and so you need rest, my dear angel.  Even angels need rest.  You have much to do very soon.  Everything not possible in this life is all the more possible in the next.  And so I watch you, taking in the unknown energies and wisdom of these hours, which will guide my next moves.  And I am grateful, feeling a sweet peace washing over me, full of love and full of hope.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Caring for an Angel

"There is emptiness, nothingness, and there is something watching this nothingness.  Now who is it that is watching?  Who is the seer?  Find out who the seer is." ~Papaji

In the smallest hours of this morning, I awake to the anticipation of the caring of an angel in the making.  In just a few hours, I will take my watch and preside over her care.  She is stepping across that liminal border, no longer inhabiting this world as a bright spirit, but as only the worn, well-travelled tiny dancer of your former manifestation.  I cannot see your new light as I wonder the form you are now taking within this liminal stage.  What part of you is still here?  Will you still hear my voice speaking softly at your side?

Who lies before me now?  I will be watching your transformation into an angel, the metamorphose of pupa to butterfly, stretching  new translucent wings, perched and ready to take flight.  I cannot help but think, The Artist Formerly Know As!  This transformation is all happening under my careful watch today.  As I say my final farewells today and tomorrow, I can only imagine the energy expanding around your broken body as it readies itself for its new expression of you.

These are magical moments I am witness to and I am trying to wrap my mind around both the pain of loss and the exhilaration of what lies beyond it.  I want to understand this brief juncture, as I watch you, mindful that utmost care is taken in this space you still reside for this tiny moment in time, your rebirth into something I can only imagine.  I will watch at the threshold, where the boundaries are dissolving, in this betwixt and between space, the realm of pure possibility.

And I will be forever changed, grateful of this blessing bestowed, your gift to me as you spread your new wings and soar.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Planting an Angel in my Garden

I am going into the garden today because it is the only place that seems right.  A dear friend is peacefully making her way out of this world as I write this.  And the garden is where I will be.  She will be there.  I know I will find her out there with me.

She was a gardener herself.  She loved the feel of the soil in her hands and the beauty that resulted from her handiwork.  We understood that together.  We both spent time in each other's gardens, sharing stories, remarking on the beauty, the similarities and the differences.

I was lucky to have seen her just last week.  We cried and held each other as we said our goodbyes.  she said she would miss me and thanked me for our time together.  I told her she had given me a gift that I will treasure forever; that of walking with her through this cancer journey she endured with courage, dignity and grace.  I told her she had left a piece of herself in me and I would always have her there in me.

As the Buddha taught, there is no birth, there is no death; there is no coming, there is no going; there is no same, there is no different; there is no permanent self, there is no annihilation. We only think there is. When we understand that we cannot be destroyed, we are liberated from fear. It is a great relief. We are all part of everything and everyone before us and will be part of all that is after us.  We are not gone, we have transformed and continue elsewhere.

But we are always here.  And so I go to the garden today.

I showed her last week how to grow new plants from cuttings of the "mother" plant.  It was something she had wanted to learn and it seemed appropriate at this time.  It was my gift to her, to bring new life to her as one was moving on.

I will plant in my garden today, the new perennials I purchased yesterday and as I plant them I will offer a prayer in honor of this small but mighty woman.  I know I will find her out there with me and that gives me comfort.  I will speak to her in that space and tell her again I love her and will see her again one day.

And next spring, when the flowers bloom and life once again shows itself in the beauty of the leaves and petals, the colors and scents in all their glory, I will say, "hello dear friend, welcome back, I remember you, I will always remember you".

You are me.  I am you.  We are one.  That is love, and it is enough.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Making Pearls

You won’t stay in the background where it is safe with a closest full of memories; tiny moments of time carefully carved into my aging frame.  Nor will you stay in the present along side my yearnings and questions and quest for forward movement.

You just sway back and forth, tiny movements, creating a constant irritation, which leaves me anxious and forever wading in this stagnant river that is us.  Flip flopping between what was and what is, the now and then, the if and why. 

Irritation makes pearls.  In this standing water, where the flies, nepidae and dragonflies flock for algae that grows from the living memories.

The Dragonfly’s scurrying flight across water, telling me there is more going beyond what’s on the surface, to look into the deeper implications and aspects of my life.
They are fantastic flyers, darting like light, twisting, turning, changing direction, even going backwards as the need arises. They are relentless.

Irritation makes pearls. I keep reminding myself

They seem to never give up...never resting for more than a few seconds....

You are relentless, constantly pulling me back down into the dark waters, to visit the despair that lives there.  And then you disappear, leaving me in the dark, drowning in the muck, groping for a way up.

Irritation makes pearls.

I wonder if the knot in my throat is that pearl, growing into the wisdom that comes from the darkness.  Or is it the one that resides in my heart, now mature, its beautiful luster, my medal of honor?  Pearls of insight to share with those that follow, a reminder about the perils of devotion and irritation; of making love and making pearls.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A Gift from an Angel

This past week was an exhausting one filled with musical performances and the preparations for such. I know - what is so stressful about that?  Well, nothing, considering one was helping prep my son’s CD release party, which was joyous and forward-looking to the future.  The other delved into the past and an unknown future.  It was more of a soulful stress.  Let me explain.

My friend is now walking the path of her final transition from this life and is at peace about beginning the next, wherever that may be.  She has been a dancer and actress all her life and things such as wakes and funerals are not her forte, not her idea of a grand departure.

So we gave her a going away party, a celebration of her life (a living wake is what she called it) that knocked the socks off most celebrations. It was a night of her favorite music performed by her friends at a nightclub, which was the location of what became her last performance, a soulful essay of her living with the cancer that was now taking her life. I was charged with singing Paul McCartney’s,  “Maybe I’m Amazed” as a tribute from her husband to her.  I wanted it to be perfect, a softer and heartfelt rendition unlike the harder original rock ballad.  Luckily my son is a musical genius and understood my “do it a bit jazzier, slower, with more soulful chords and feel, I want it different, special”.

The club was packed with friends and family, all not quite sure how to react to this odd event, but wanting to see her, probably for the last time and send her off in a bubble of love.  You could feel the energy in the room, which was pure love.  All egos, all anger, resentment, sadness were checked at the door.  She was radiant; the pain erased from her face, her energy up as if someone shot her up with adrenaline.  She danced in her chair as the music moved her off this final path for just a few hours and set her on a picnic blanket, basking in the glow of the evening.

I had never been so nervous to sing this one song to her.  A bit odd, considering I have spent a good part of my life on stages.  I find comfort and excitement and bliss when performing on a stage.  But this was different.  I had never sung to an angel.  Being with someone as they begin their transition out of this present time is a gift.  I have watched as she moves out of her broken body into an ethereal being, an angel.

But there was so much love in the room that night, it transported me and held me, and melodic tones emanated from my heart and filled my body with so much love that it felt like warm honey was flowing out of my mouth.  In my dear friend’s own words, “magical.”

What an amazing celebration of life.  She said the next day it was the most incredible night of her entire life.  In her words, “I couldn’t have scripted my leaving better or with more love.  I’ll have a heavy travel bag filled with love I’m bringing to heaven.  I hope they let me carry it on the “light” train.  I don’t want to part with it.”

Which made me take a look at my own life.  Selfishly, would I be able to fill a room with people who love me so much that they want to celebrate my life along side me in this way?  Have I been good, kind, generous, giving, loving and loyal?  I have been asking my friends these same questions.  It really makes you think about what really is important.  What will people remember you for?  What are the gifts you give?  Are they only things bought and paid for, or are they gifts from your heart? Maya Angelou once said,
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I have decided that I, too, want a celebration of life that I can attend before I transition into my next incarnation.  Of course, I am hoping it is many, many years in the making.  In the meantime, I will look to my friend, my angel, for wisdom, food for my heart, and love as if this was the last day of my life, everyday, every hour.  I hope you do too.