Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Loss, Shadows and What Remains-Continued

It's perfectly natural to go about our routine existence without fully realizing what and who is important to us. We don't even truly realize the full importance and meaning of our own existence until it is threatened. In fact, sometimes it seems that those that deserve it the least continue to face the highest walls and the worst amount of suffering. Still, the irony is that when it's time to tell your story, there always seems to be a lot of somebody elses' out there that had it a hell of a lot worse.

When my father learned he had lung cancer, he poured most of his energy into fighting long and hard enough to be able to say good-bye. He wanted to see all of his kids through one more birthday. He almost made it. He got about two weeks past mine before his body could no longer keep up with his spirit. We found the unsent card for my brother in his bedroom closet. December was a little too long to wait. It was time. I kept his picture at my desk at work the entire time he was sick as a reminder. I kept it afterwards, too. It didn't seem right to take it down. Sometimes I take out that last birthday card he sent me and let the tears fall as I read it. Other times I smile at his stubbornness and sense of humor. He still called me "princess," even in the midst of death. That was one thing he never forgot.

Despite having a grave and scary illness, he still died peacefully in his sleep, the way it should've been. I still think about how perhaps if I had listened to my premonition, I could've saved him. I could've warned him to go to the doctor earlier. They might have found the mass earlier. They might've been able to do something. But, he was already 86. He'd already lived his life. "A good life," he told me several times. A part of him knew his current existence was about to end. I still keep my portion of his ashes in the blue stone heart that sits between a set of candles that I light every now and then. Once in awhile he still slams the doors shut in my mother's house when there's no sign of wind or even a breeze. I think it's his way of saying "I'm still here."

I've been playing the "loss" game since I was four years old. You'd think it would get easier or that I'd have it down pat. There are the stages, of course: denial, bargaining, anger, sadness and acceptance. Sometimes I skip a few, other times I go through all of them. It doesn't matter how many times you do it, it's different each time. Each time it's just as hard, sometimes harder because you're tired of facing the same reality. Loss and letting go are part of physical existence. Life only lets us play pretend for so long. The easy part is that it's someone else who is leaving. Even though it hurts, you're almost certain you'll still be around as you know yourself. You're almost certain that someday, somehow, you'll get through this.

When it's your own existence that's threatened, I suppose that's a tougher game to play. Fear and panic can overtake your thoughts because you're unsure of what happens after physical existence and because you're not ready to go just yet. You worry about what'll happen to those you love and all the things you consume yourself with taking care of in this realm. Things and people you really don't control anyhow, but life gives you the illusion that you do.

During my early teenage years, I overhead my mom talking about potential cancer her doctor had detected. She must've been only in her 30's back then and I wasn't supposed to hear the conversation. I was so frightened because I wasn't near ready to lose her. I shook; I trembled; my heart and mind raced out of control; I cried. But most of all, I prayed like hell. I pleaded. I played the game of spiritual bargaining. I placed all my energy in the only thing I had-hope. Hope that "God" or the "Universe" would give her a "pass." I got the answer before she got hers. I knew she was going to be ok. The spot, the "forming mass" they thought they saw wasn't there the next time. Gone, vanished; as though it had never existed. I knew then that no matter what you may choose to believe, a little something called "prayer" seemed to work.

Sometimes it doesn't give us the exact answer we hoped for. Sometimes it tells us that it's someone's destiny to exchange their current physical existence for their spiritual one. Other times it has the power to change the current course of cause and effect. And it's always a way for the spiritual realm to comfort us with the answers we were searching for.

One thing is for certain though-whether or not you're able to catch that "something" you're so desperately chasing after doesn't matter. Eventually the wind finds a way to either bring it back when you're not looking or it brings you something that on the surface only appears to be new.


  1. You're right, there is power if prayer, but as much as we may hope and pray, there are some things that are meant to go another way. Those things that don't turn out as we hoped are usually gifts we can only see in hindsight.

  2. True. The answer isn't always what we'd like and there's a reason or a set of reasons for that. As you stated, we don't find out until later on in our journey. Still, those "gifts" make us smile in a mixture of relief and wisdom when we do look back.