“I thought about my disconnection to my body, for so long. Disconnected because I wanted to die, disconnection because I didn’t want to feel so I drank. And then I watched breath moving the dead lungs of a dead human being in and out. And it struck me that breath could transcend death, that it lives on, in all of us, far past the point we are dead and even before we are alive. That we don’t die.”
This is a small quote from a post I wrote earlier this year called Just Breathe (here: https://mishiam.wordpress.com/2015/03/16/just-breathe/).
While I feel really strange about quoting myself, I felt this captured a lot of what I wanted to say, especially the last bit…the idea that we don’t die. That night in my yoga Teacher Training I was transfixed by those lungs, that idea. Since then I have continued in my studies, just now finishing a new, online course about yoga and asana and auyerveda and still, and always, the bottom line is we breathe. We all do, we all did, that breath lives on.
Last Sunday was November 1, All Soul’s day, Day of the Dead, Samhain…call it what you will culturally, religiously or personally. I started the day at my Day of the Dead Ancestor altar, meditating, thinking and dreaming about those I have loved and who are now dead, Tom chief among them. I had been pretty depressed leading up to Halloween, the long holiday season (or Death March, as I prefer to call it) looming ahead of me. I was tired, exhausted really. This year will be 10 years since he died and as I looked at that fact I just felt the relentlessness of my sadness and the wonder that I had borne it for so many years. 10 years! God! How was I even alive under that weight? Why?
I had a full day planned, which was good. Starting at my altar, then a friend’s Samhain party, welcoming in the Celtic New Year and acknowledging the fallow season of winter. We cast runes, read tarot, talked about spirituality and witchy ways, she made intuitive scent blends, and I led a guided meditation on death. (Yep….right in my wheelhouse!)
( ASIDE: sometimes when I hear the things coming out of my mouth, or my fingers in this case, I think about how several short years ago I would have laughed at these ideas, meditation, runes, spirituality, etc….proof that things can change, and constantly do!)
The meditation felt great. I really enjoyed it, I felt a release and hope the others did too as we named our dead, gave them voice again, a place in our world (reach out, grab their hands, “we are stardust, we are golden”, we don’t die). When I left I felt lighter, as if I had released some of that sadness…let out some air.
I went from there to another friend’s home for dinner (well, I invited myself to dinner…they put up with me!). While chatting they said that they had been watching old videos converted to DVD and right in the middle there was Tom, singing one of the “parody”songs he was famous for (quickly: big birthdays=party and parody song, full of rude age jokes and lots of laughs that helped us feel better as we aged. Tom wrote and sang most of them). I heard that and mentioned I’d like to see it. I was a little unsure since I haven’t seen any video of him since shortly after he died. I remember it was hard though. But it was November 1, years later, what better day? And talk about giving my dead a voice, which is what I had been doing. YOWZA. It felt right.
So we watched. And there is no way I can describe the experience because…because. But I do know that from the second I saw him there onscreen I was transfixed. His voice; that green shirt, I saw him, I heard him. I cried the kind of tears you just gradually realize are coming out of your eyes, grateful tears. I kept thinking : “It was real, it was REAL!” Did I forget? Did I question that? I don’t remember questioning but in the moment I guess I had. It was stunning. There he was, Tom in his element…singing, looking handsome as hell, cracking jokes, center of attention and making people laugh. That was his favorite him…and earlier in the day I had named and called him forth. #WHOA!
Then we went through other DVD’s and found more. I stopped crying and we all started laughing so hard. But the best moments, for me, were small and personal: brushing past each other in the hall, him calling to me from the kitchen (what did he need? I wish I could remember), looking at me in the midst of a song, film of our home, our kid…all the things that made US, made our lives. He was real and he loved me. I had that. And I loved him, amidst and despite it all. And even though our lives together were often akin to Rilke’s “beauty and terror”, we did experience and live it all. Real. Moving and happening. It was real. I called him forth. He was breathing, moving, being. He answered. It was fantastic
I went home with 2 DVD’s. I joked when leaving that I would be watching them non-stop every moment from then on. I haven’t though, for now that night was enough, the reminder and the witnessing of my dear friends.
Since then I have shifted….in thinking, in being, in attitude and in emotions. Another layer of fog has lifted, much like it did when I saw that dissection tape, the air breathing through the dead lungs.
I’ve felt lighter and freer. I have done a number of positive things, asked for things, taken risks. (Jeez, I haven’t written here in a long-ass time, so I guess actually publishing this counts too!) That relentless sadness has dissipated to a low hum; I feel better than I have in,well, years I guess. That 10 year mark will come, I would still trade anything to have him back, but I’m, what? Better? I don’t really know. Different, in a very good way.
Does this make sense? It does to me. I am experiencing respite. I don’t doubt I’ll be sad again, maybe even relentlessly, but I’m not now. I’m noticing how I am not sad now. I’ve been noticing this for 10 days now and it hasn’t changed.
That’s what I got.
That’s what I had.
Integrating those two things has been hard for me, so hard. But, as with anything, it takes what it takes. And, as with anything, it shifts and changes all the time. And also…I have to acknowledge how much work I have been doing to get into this place; hopefully this block has lifted and I can write some more about that, but I certainly haven’t been lying on the couch eating grapes and watching some crazy housewife shit…
But NOW…I am feeling good