Thursday, June 5, 2008

More thoughts on death

When Pablo borrows the car to go out for the evening I always say, “Please drive carefully.”
“Of course,” he says flippantly.
“No, really,” I say.
“Well, we’ve all got to die sometime,” he replies with the insouciance of youth.

When you are young, you feel invincible. Death is a fuzzy concept, something that happens to other people, to old people. You can’t even imagine your own death.

We Mothers know how fragile life is. We know that death is always only one breath away, one heartbeat away. My job as your Mother, when you were born, was to keep you alive. My job, for the rest of my days, is to wish you happiness and life.

The “Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” is a book that I keep by my bedside. Not because I am morbid, but because I am life loving. The Tibetan idea is: if you are always aware that you are going to die, you will live a better life. This book helps me to live joyfully every day. Instead of waking up in the morning and saying, “Oh, okay,” taking it for granted that you woke up alive, the Tibetans suggest you think, “My God, I’m alive! A miracle! Another amazing day!”

Being born and dying are the only two things you have in common with every single creature on this earth.

I ask that you let the awareness of your death and the death of loved ones help you to live each day joyfully, fully, lovingly, intensely, freely, lightly. Live always respecting the sheer miracle of being alive. See "the tiger in the grass" every day because he is indeed, hovering there.

In Sherwin Nuland’s illuminating book, “How We Die,” he discusses people’s desire for “a good death.” But "a good death" is a myth, he says, there is no such thing. Dying is hard work and traumatic. He continues: the only way to have “a good death” is to live a good life, meaning, a life that is rich and full and satisfying for you.

I prefer the term “passing over” rather than death. Death signifies an end, a termination. I personally don’t believe in this. Yes, the physical body dies. But the soul does not cease to exist. The soul, that which gives life to our flesh and blood, is divine, it is the energy of our consciousness, and when we pass, this energy transforms into something else.

Believe in angels. They abound all around us. In many forms, both seen and unseen.

Here is an excerpt from “Facts of Faith” by Henry Scott Holland that brings me comfort when I miss my Mother, which is...every day.

Death is nothing at all. It does not count. I have only slipped away into the next room. Nothing has happened. Everything remains exactly as it was. I am I, and you are you, and the old life that we lived so fondly together is untouched, unchanged. Whatever we were to each other that we are still. Call me by the old familiar name. Speak of me in the easy way, which you always used. Put no difference into your tone. Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow. Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes that we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me, pray for me. Let my name be ever the household word that it always was. Let it be spoken without an effort, without the ghost of a shadow upon it. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was. There is absolute and unbroken continuity. What is this death but a negligible accident? Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner. All is well. Nothing is hurt; nothing is lost. One brief moment and all will be as it was before. How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!

No comments: