Things are heavy here in our household right now. A much beloved uncle died yesterday, after what feels like a long battle with cancer. He died in the morning, while with his now adult children and wife. My partner traveled up to be with him last week, and got to see him on one of his last lucid days.
It wasn't an easy decision for my partner to go up to Vermont, leaving his work as a teacher, leaving me at home alone with the little (now 2 1/2 yo) f. After the word came that hospice was suggested by his doctor, a day passed, with all its vicissitudes and stressors. That evening, once little f was asleep, my partner and I met in the kitchen.
"Have you thought about going up to see Spike?" I asked.
"It's been rolling around in my mind today, I'm still thinking about it."
"Would you like my opinion on the matter?"
As soon as I got the yes, I didn't stop for a moment. Go. I said go. Go. Go. Go. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Do not stop to wonder. Do not question if you are wanted. Do not let your fears stop you. Do not think it's too much time to take off. Do not worry about your son, or your beloved. Do not worry about the timing. Do not worry about the cost. Just go. Go. Go.
I am glad to say that N did not leave that evening. He made the good choice of checking in with all concerned, and traveled up with his parents for a timely visit and farewell. I was solo parenting for three nights. It was absolutely worth it.
As someone who is pretty damn certain that having a baby was one of the most transformative events in my life, I am also equally certain that the other end has the potential to be the same. We all get to choose how we relate to these transformative times, and to me, the worst thing to do is to pass up a chance to touch into the love and connection that is at the center of life. There is so much that urges us away from that closeness. And all of that is a lie and a hoodwink. We deserve to be close to life. We just do. Without reservation. We all deserve it.
I was with my grandfather on the day he died. I won't describe in detail what happened, mostly to protect those in my family who were there, as well. But what I will describe is my experience of sitting by his bedside, where he had decided to be at the end, and closing my eyes. I don't know how to name what impulse moved me, but I was suddenly holding in my mind each of the points on my grandfather's body that held energy. As I imagined them, I urged them in my mind to release. I was crying, I know. I was scared. And when he died later that day, it felt very right. Very real and very right.
As I read this, I think I sound like a hippy freak. And as you know from a previous post, I am not a hippie. What I am is a deeply spiritual person. And how did I learn this? I just can't tell you right now. Right now what I know is that there is something in this life that wants us to get close. And sometimes it takes these transforming times-- birth and death, loss, trauma, injustice, love, justice, ritual, other stuff-- art, revolutions, nature, lotsa stuff-- to shake us into that awareness. I'm trying to hold onto the loss of this good good man as an invitation to the closeness of life. I'm not quite there, but writing it helps.
Spike, in the five or so years I knew him, was a New England gentleman cum conspiracy theorist cum tractor savior cum father cum intellectual cum gracious host cum welcome wagon. I felt his hugs in my feet, and was always just a wee bit scared of him. As the cancer brought him to a more remote orbit, I was always amazed at his comfort with just disappearing. No words, just gone for whatever reason was motivating him at a family gathering. As his energy shifted, I felt a clarity in his eyes, rather than saw it. The refining fire of treatment, spiritual and modern, meant that he was living in different time than the rest of those who gathered around him. His participation was always just a gift, and one that I only benefitted from by default. Lucky me.
So this is to Spike's passing. So this is to our growing closer. So this is to saying yes, and go, and more, please. We deserve this life. All parts of it. Even when we don't, and even when it's hard as hell. We deserve to be close, and to find it in each step, from beginning to end.