Day 36: Blessings!

Yesterday we enjoyed lunch with Jan, my sister-in-love, at Stone’s Throw, a restaurant on the Housatonic River.  It was a perfect beginning to a day of perfection.

She is able now to read a poem on grief by John O’Donohue I sent her after my brother Gary, her husband, passed five weeks ago today.

View from Stone’s Throw restaurant

We then attended a beautiful wedding at Laurelton Hall Chapel.  The newly, now formally united couple, met in high school and have been best friends and soulmates ever since.  It was a wedding made in heaven and both families already spend holidays together so it’s a uniting truly blessed.

The reception was at Aria high upon a hill.  Appetizers were served outdoors. We could have been in Tuscany or Napa but we were in CT.  A windfall from an attic search after grandparents passed provided a surprise display of fireworks worthy of the Fourth of July.

I sit here now, a cauldron brewing experiences of love, trust, healing, and beauty.  The father of the bride kept speaking of his love of Michael and his trust in giving his “little girl” to Michael, and still how hard it was to do. Yes, and now there is what comes.  Tears, love, and joy, and fireworks lit the night, and this morning I sit here calmly, beaconed in peace.

Aria though there’s no way to capture the size and extent of the view

Day 35: Love Sparkles the Air

The sun is shining in Shelton, CT for the first time it seems since my brother passed thirty-five days ago.  The rehearsal dinner we attended last night was beautiful and now today a wedding but first, we’ll meet with Jan, my brother’s wife.  The intention had been that we’d meet with her and my brother but now it is just her and so we balance life and death, love and its accompaniment, as the more we love, the more deeply we are carved, formed, birthed, and fertilized by pain, and yes, we mix our metaphors because we are abundant with our evolving maze of curves.

Yesterday I read Mingyur Rinpoche’s discovery when he recovered from a near-death experience.  When you love, the world loves you back. His book comforts me as I feel my brother here in a way I don’t need to comprehend.  I only need to know that he is the butterfly and I the caterpillar, and one day I, too, will fill out my wings.

Il Palio – site of the rehearsal dinner

Day 34: Movement

Yesterday I was in a car, on a plane, in a car, and then walking in NYC. Today has been walking in NYC, a train, and a car. Now, I’m softly settled looking out on trees. Travel emphasizes that wherever we go, there we are, and it also shows that there’s momentum in traversing distances, and it’s wonderful to stop. I’m a champion of the pause. Where is grief in all this? Bella says, “Why aren’t you home?”

And now I see squirrels running up and down the trees just like at home, and a cat that looks like Bella just walked by.

“Little Sweetie”
Squirrels love trees and everywhere is home!

Support is everywhere!

Day 33: Morning Wisdom

I’m a lark, and yet, in the morning I feel wise, so I must wake to the sound of the owl asking me this day, “Who, who, who,” and I wonder how the answers will come today.

Flight of the egret lifts joy in my heart –

Day 32: Evening

It’s raining.  My cat Bella and I are together on the couch watching the rain, listening.  It’s enough, breath like a bellows moving in and out.

Though flights have been cancelled, our plan is to fly from SFO to JFK tomorrow morning.  This time we fly for a wedding, not a memorial, as we did two weeks ago, and yet, the lift for me is fragile. I feel the weight of grief even as I balance on the coming together of two people in marriage, commitment, love, and trust.

As I receive compliments on “Airing Out the Fairy Tale”, I remember back.

About six months after I returned home from Nepal, I received an airmail envelope, weight of a feather, from Kathmandu, with a poem from Sonam, the sixteen year old son of the Sherpa who led us on the trek in Nepal.

“Mountain can’t fly,

We can die.

I waiting to you.

You must try.”

At the time, I knew it was impossible to return, and I sit with that now, as I’m heavy with grief, yet knowing renewal is at hand with each breath.

When my mother passed, I wrote this poem.  


Two leaves on our chest

Sweeping grief with every breath.

Lungs and breath

Later I wrote:  

There’s nothing binary in grief,

No on-off switch, no separation of yin and yang,

Good and evil, male and female, punishment and revenge,

Joy and sorrow.

Grief holds all.  

I sit with this now as I consider what it is to get on a plane, the magic and majesty of flying from one place to another, one group of friends to another, while still being true to the organism harvesting beats, trusting rhythm and reverberations inside and out.  Petals unfold for sun and for rain, knowing the skin-filled caress and blossom of dew.

A rose in my garden

Day 32: Weaving Connection

I wake at four these days, my heart a May Pole of connection with my ancestors through my brother’s passing on April 14th.  He is here weaving beauty and love in and through my heart.

When embalming, the Egyptians left the heart inside the body because they believed the heart was the seat of wisdom and in the afterlife it would be weighed to see whether the person had led a good life.

I believe now the heart is stretched when someone we love passes, strengthened.  It is as though breath moves more clearly and openly through nose and pores, and in that, we notice more.  I’m seeing birds in trees and roses hidden within green growth. I feel the world peering at me, peeking, as I look, hear, smell, touch, taste.  I’m receiving the world around me, expanded in my brother’s passage, his leadership in growth.

In that, I’m with the well-known quote by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in The Little Prince: “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Eyes opened, heart touched, I wiggle in receptivity, grateful to be led like a child by those who go before.

Opening dwells, haloes heart

Day 31: Morning Song

The day begins to light and birds are singing.  It’s as though their notes draw the light. Which comes first, light or song, and what vibrates in me now?

It’s been thirty-one days since my brother passed.  The curtain he opened, the veil, feels fragile today, as I continue to navigate two worlds, my own and what he now explores.

There is expansion in my chest, and my arms stretch a little wider as though encompassing more than I know.

In the book “In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey through the Bardos of Living and Dying”, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche shares how, with death, the elements let go, earth, water, fire, air, space, and I recall my visit to the Everest Memorial in 1993.  I felt elemental as though I understood. I write about it in “Airing Out the Fairy Tale”.

Reverence waved within us like the prayer flags overhead as we entered the Everest Memorial. It’s a circle, a sacred site where those who have died on Everest are honored and remembered with cairns, simple piles of stones. I hadn’t expected the Taj Mahal, of course, yet I was shocked at the efforts to honor human life in an area so bare, with nothing to spare.

Celeste, Sante, and I separated, each drawn to explore different sections within the circle, each needing to find our own way to honor and grieve. The wind blew icy cold. Something new entered my bones. Not fear, or even grief. I stepped outor was brought outof humanness, into something more elemental.

The book “The Songlines” by Bruce Chatwin came to me as I stood there. Set in the Australian outback, it’s an exploration of the invisible pathways by which the Aboriginal ancestors sang their world into existence. I felt that in Nepal, as though those who’d died were winging their way through stars, as though the expansiveness of death was impersonal. It was as if the vastness between and within atoms was tangible. I could believe we sing the universe into being as we tune into the vibrations between the cells. We are tuning forks.  

I’m with that now, awareness of the elements and how they come together, in this moment, in me. I’m awake, my song within, my heart a cauldron brewing what comes as I open to this day, this birth, each day, a birth and celebration of what’s new and wakes. I walk out into my yard, greeted by leaves, trunks, stones, and the twittering notes of birds.