Kind of makes you wonder, huh. . .
D E A T H
Billy Collins has long been one of my favorite contemporary poets and he ponders
D E A T H
this way in his poem entitled,
M Y N U M B E R
Is Death miles away from this house,
reaching for a window in Cinncinati
or breathing down the neck of a lost hiker
in British Columbia?
Is he too busy making arrangements,
tampering with air brakes,
scattering cancer cells like seeds,
loosening the wooden beams of roller coasters
to bother with my hidden cottage
that visitors find so hard to find?
Or is he stepping from a black car
parked at the dark end of the lane,
shaking open the familiar cloak,
its hood raised like the head of a crow,
and removing the scythe from the trunk?
Did you have any trouble with the directions?
I will ask, as I start talking my way out of this.
I remember at a very young age welcoming d e a t h; walking with it; talking to it; trying to understand what it all meant. I don’t know if I’ve ever come to heads or tails of that but I know doing some 26 funerals a month for the past 10 years has brought me closer to it than I’ve ever had in my entire life. The Buddhist tell us that attachment is the form of all suffering and detachment helps us not suffer as much. I, like Many, am a poor Buddhist. . .
I remember as a five or six year old kid, sitting in the backseat one Friday night as we were making our way to my grandparents, which was more of a weekly event than not. . .I told my parents matter of factly that I hope I would die before them because I would be too sad if they died first; there was a palpable silence I can remember and that nervous look between parents that wasn’t all that secret before they both, in machine gun like fashion began sputtering off all kinds of reasons why that’s “not the way it’s suppose to be.”
There was the death of my grandfather when I was six and then the death of my other grandfather right before my 14th birthday that I believed I was directly responsible and then aunts, uncles, great grandmother and grandmothers and friends in high-school. . .
In a strange way I have learned to not just open the door to death but actually unhinge it. And by just unhinging it, it’s let it come and go in places in my life like a undamable flood waters that seep in spots you didn’t even know exists and before it drys all of the way it leaves an unmistakable odor that never quiet evaporates or gets tamed. . .
I’ve long ago filled out my own DNRCC and written letters to be read ‘at that appropriate time. . .I’ve taped parts of my own Celebration of Life so I can have the “LAST WORD” and intend to attend it if I get a glimpse or a longer than usual ‘heads-up’ that it’s looming before me in my most immediate future;
I’ve even gone further as to actually imagine trying to envision what it would be like to not only lose my parents today, this year, but also losing my sister and brothers to the SHADOW that knows no Light. . .
And yes, I’ve dared hugging the Porcupine-full-barbed-quails-exposed and plunging deep, what it would be like to have Erin, my wife die or any one of my four daughters, my son, my five granddaughters or my grandson. . .
O U C H
That seems to go little bit further than what we would call mindfulness. . .
It’s way less than mindlessness, too. . .
Try it go ahead and finish these two sentences:
BEFORE I DIE I WOULD LIKE TO_________________________________
THIS IS WHAT IT WOULD FEEL LIKE IF ONE OF MY LOVED ONE DIED______________
Write out your own Obituary. . .
G O T H E R E
Recall the Laughters. . .all of them
It certainly doesn’t matter if a Tree gets hit by lightning and no longer can bear fruit or sprout leaves compared to if my wife or my children, grandchildren or even my dog Molly died; and it’s even much different then if somebody that is the same age as my wife or my child or my parents die. . .this mindfulness, this acceptance of death; this detachment, is it somehow making me live better; making me love deeper; making me feel and experience more freshly and more deeply?
I’m not sure, but I do know that it’s not any L E S S. And by taking this door and unhinging it, it allows these thoughts, these feelings to sort of come and go without stopping them or judging them or disallowing them. And it is in that very act that it disarms them; Renders them less potent; Makes them, DARE I SAY, more
n e i g h b o r l y. . . ?
It seems, these things are the very seeds once planted we don’t fully ever get to see the plants but know that they grow just the same, and that we are not just tenders of those plants, but also harvesters. It’s growing season always and in ALL PLACES because it never is not THAT season among the Seasons. . .
So exactly what is the Takeaway?
Simply that it is not the same for each person or any person in your way of dealing with anything good and bad; Life or Death is not exactly a RIGHT or WRONG WAY so much as YOUR WAY and most likely it’ll be different than Another’s WAY or Experience. . .
SO EACTLY WHAT IS THE TAKEAWAY?
Teach me your way; let me learn of it and don’t judge me too harshly if I don’t follow it to every detail but take from it lessons that I need to learn at the very moment that I need to learn even again, and let that be enough for the both of us. . .
After all what makes us Caring Catalysts. . .
What makes us Anything
What makes us Everything
is not the fear we are nothing. . .
It’s the Fear that we
WE CEASE TO BE
EVERYONE’S. . .
Excuse me now. . .
it’s time to do a little dying
and place my head on the pillow;
close my eyes and be asleep
before the next song on my playlist comes up. . .
And even as I die in this way,
A G A I N
(as we each do every night with even a not-so-good-sleep)
I am confident that I will RESURRECT
either to a new day
or to the One that is never ending. . .
For there indeed is a TIME
tick-ticking away. . .
a time for both
and yes. . .
indeed a time for all