04.14.09

In Passing

Posted in Life in general, On writing at 8:32 am by Marion

Grief and loss

A subdued FD today, looking at the unstoppable current of life that sustains itself, but into which we perish. While spring erupts around us, there is an inescapable sadness this season underlying all the color and joy.

I first became aware of it in college when I was working on the undergraduate literary review, Cellar Door. As we read over the stories for the spring edition, I was amazed at their somber tone.

Fall brings love, spring brings death, the editor said to me.

She was right.

T.S. Eliot’s remarkable poem “The Waste Land” begins with that famous line, April is the cruelest month ….

Thinking myself to sleep last night, I was reminded of words of the Buddha, who said, Every thing that is created will die. It is an inevitable aspect of life that it ends, and yet why are we so devastated when it happens?

I lost an uncle earlier this week, and yesterday found myself undone by it. I spent the afternoon trying to make sense of it all. The large body of experiences, drives and energy we call “family” affects us from the time we take our first breath and for good or bad, is the dominant influence on our lives.

We can fight against it, or embrace it, but it is part and parcel of who we are.

So when my uncle died, he took with him all those years and experiences — the framework on which so much of my childhood was built. He was always part of our large family get-togethers at my grandmother’s house, where he would regale us with stories of ghosts that crept in under the door and would rob you of your brain; or of the country “witch” named “Sis Combs” whose toenails were so long she clicked across the floor like a cat.

He passed Easter morning, and though in later years we sometimes found ourselves on opposite sites of many issues, he was nevertheless my flesh and blood, my tribe, my family.

If there are any lessons in loss, I don’t know them yet. I still struggle to find meaning in any given day, being a person who’s always worried so much about obligations I’ve sometimes lost sight of people. Yet if there is one thing that I believe, it’s that every moment is precious, and must be lived carefully and with intention and honesty.

So today unfolds before me covered by the gray veil, with a sun out there somewhere.

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