Experience has taught me that life is suffering... I could have discovered that without painful experience by reading up on Buddhist philosophy. Oh wait, I've done that. It doesn't sink in until you really live it, or bear witness to it.
The other day I was in the Bay - I don't usually shop that much, but I was there nonetheless. I had to walk through the boys section to get to where I needed to go and sadness struck me as I recalled shopping for holiday gifts for Thomas. I think about him often, pray to him, have his picture on my alter or by my bedside, often wondering what he's doing in his spirit form, and often feel him visit. So do my cats. They talk to him I'm sure of it.
His entire death process is coming to the surface again as a client of mine who's loved one is in the process of dying describes what and how this person presents. Even if my client is in denial, by his descriptions, I know she is not long for this world. Oddly enough it is no longer triggering - Thomas' whole process is in my heart, especially the night I witnessed spirit take form. I might have written about it, or I might not have - with all the grief I didn't write much about the beauty of death. But here goes.
One night, probably about 2 or 3 nights before his final breath I sat between my (ex) wife's legs reading from my orthodox prayer book (of all things). The room was dimly lit and Thomas was sleeping (or so we think). The sun had not yet gone down but was probably on it's way. The tree outside his window would often obscure the view of the sky. He had been doing his usual choking and coughing that day. His medication at this stage already at his tolerance level: they weren't lasting as long and giving him relief. He wasn't choking or coughing much this particular time I'm describing. Everyone around was sleeping or in another room. (or, if they were around I was paying absolutely no attention to them as I was deep in prayer, meditation, reflection. My wife was laying sleepily on the back of the chair as I leaned a little into her. I only barely noticed his more favourite person in the whole wide world walk into the room. As she sat down beside him, a peaceful stillness and calmness entered the room like breeze flows through leaves. It seemed that he had waited for her because when I looked up from my prayer book I witnessed what I call a miracle. Science can call it whatever it likes but at that moment this young man looked up at her and smiled. Now scientifically it could have been a twitch, or synapses firing, but they don't fire without some sort of stimulus. She was his stimulus - enough to make his face "twitch" into a smile. A peace washed over me as I realized that no one else caught this - or at lest that's how fixated, how still I (and the room) was. Some of the ones in the room were asleep. It was one of the first tranquil, peace-filled moments being with the in laws. It was the most sacred exchange between cousins, best friends, soul mates that I'd ever witnessed. (and it's also that moment that I got in shit for later on when mother in law noticed how cuddled into my wife I was, calling my lack of distance inappropriate and sickening. Yah, the lesbophobic pounding that came afterwards was more than I could bare, but suck it up for the wife I did. Ironically the moment she complained about, was in prayer reading from my orthodox siddur of all things!)
That stillness I feel now and again, and have felt before in my life but not as prominent as when Thomas "awoke". His face, the light glowing and radiating off his pale skin, his blue eyes gleaning towards the girl, all were so angelic. No tubes, no illness, no coughing or pain. Only peace.
It's that stillness that covered the counselling room as my client came to a quiet acceptance of this pending death that I felt the sacredness of the work that I do. To bear witness to someone else's turmoil, having been strong enough to go through my own or carry my loved one, my life partner (at the time) through all the bullshit of in laws, the heart-ache, the sorrow and grief. I am no longer with her, we no longer talk, she no longer wants to be wed to her partner in life, but I journey with others and realize that this is where I need to be. I have given enough of myself to those that do not nor will not recognize that gift.
Endings are full of sorrow. I am full of my own grief and loss over losing a life mate, a soul-contract. Our ugly divorce process makes me wonder where that tenderness went. It makes me wonder how love could turn so ugly, and when I think back to that "miracle" in his room that night, all I felt was family - not the "family" concept of my in laws, but family as in my step-son on his death bed, peacefully leaving, and my wife holding me holding her.
I have no family now. She is gone, my siblings and I have not spoken in a year. My parents. when we speak sporadically, continue to shame me for my broken marriage. I no longer contact them- why call to be shit on? I was raised catholic- you don't divorce, in fact, you don't question your religion, sexuality, faith, or anything else. I, by virtue of following my heart, soul and spirit by choosing my own paths have, according to them, rejected them. And so they continue to reject me. It is especially painful during (Jewish) holidays. I have no family to go to to light candles with, no one to cook latkes for, (or create a passover Seder), it's lonely being a single (lesbian) Jew. Yet I light my hanukiah anyway because it's about me and my Creator - no matter how lonely it feels.
Death isn't just in losing a life to the other side. The death of family, of that sense of 'home', and of stability I once had. Perhaps it's because I am alone yet again, a year later in a very big very empty house. I am finding I am avoiding being at home again - the same behaviour I employed last year to get through the first few months of being in "our" house". Well Dec. 14th is fast approaching, the day she signed it all over, almost a year since it's been "our" house and I am still having a hard time when it's empty. I was graced with a friend living with me during the summer and fall, but, here we go again! I'm in the same situation, wondering what I will do, getting angry again that I am living a life I did not choose. I recall laughing at the lawyer when we bought the house, signing a clause about "if we divorce". I felt like someone was questioning our love and said to him 'there's no such thing as divorce' in my heart. Who knew five years later I would be seeking my own lawyer!
We are so attached to the containers we call people, but without those people life is very empty, very sad. It's too bad we take "people" for granted.