Death comes when you least expect it, like a door that suddenly shuts in your face, you, the survivor, left behind with grief and self pity and anger and abandonment.
Death didn’t touch my life until my fifties. I was unaware of the rituals, the expectations others demand of a survivor, and was therefore unaware of the depth and length of grief. But now, after experiencing the death of my father, I know all too well “the drill”, the tears that blind side you in the middle of the day, the aloneness, the knowledge that you will never have a chance to say I love you to the deceased. Yet at some point I have learned to move forward. After the third death, after my brother, my mother and my dad went to Heaven without me, I realized that death is a part of life, a consequence of living. If you are lucky you can evade death for decades and maybe even a century.
I’ve learned that at some point one gives up on living and welcomes the chance to die and leave this ground where we walk every day. A body wears out, the mind becomes a near blank slate again and pain becomes overwhelming.
I’m open to signs from beyond, and have seen birds that alight next to me for several minutes or felt a cold breeze in a stuffy closed room or had a dead person’s favorite animal give me unusual attention. Is it that I leave myself open to the touch of a spirit from above or am I deceiving myself? My questions go unanswered, making me angry and depressed. I wish and hope that the spirits of loved ones swirl around me every day, watching and waiting for a time that only they are privy to, when I can join them. Their imagined presence calms me.
My Dad’s cremated remains, at the Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida, were on a table near me. The military Honor Guard played taps and my eyes filled with tears. The notes rose above the pale white granite stones and pierced the air over the quiet sunny fields. But to my left I saw my parents standing a bit away from me. They were smiling and leaning on each other, enjoying the day, each other and the Honor Guard. Some may say that I was hallucinating but at that moment I knew they were together and safe and happy.
Now I’ve learned to be, to move on, to live my own life and not to dwell on why, why did they leave me. Death is a destination as is today and tomorrow. Though I still find myself crying now and then it is only because I am selfish, wanting the past back, silly really.
It is now time to go my own way, live my life, smile at the past, rejoin my friends and animals, write, be creative and feel blessed that my destination is here and now, as it should be.