Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Birth to Death & all those Things In-between

I spent the last week in Pennsylvania because of a death in my family, but oddly enough not much time was spent dealing with the death and it reminded me a lot of when my mom died.

My mom had terminal cancer and was given three months to live. She was the only person who was strong during those three months and she left me, my dad and my dog to pick up the pieces afterwards. When someone dies no matter what philosophy or religion you believe in, people come to pay their respects. For a week or two, your house may be transformed into a shrine where there is constantly a discussion of memories, old times, the good, the bad, the ugly and loneliness. While your home is a shrine, people come and go and bring stories about your loved one – these stories may not be any you were directly involved in, they are usually the personal experiences of your loved one and that special person who came to pay their respects.

After the week or two has past, you are alone. I don’t mean physically alone, you may live with your parents, spouse, and/or pet but mentally alone. You start to realize how much of a role that individual played in your life. I think this is when the official grieving begins.

I spent much of the month of July, reading Buddhist philosophies on death, dying, aging and everything in-between. Did I find the answers I was looking for? No. Will I ever find the answers I’m looking for? Doubt it. Why did I waste my time? Because one of my mantras is to try to always make sense of things, not necessarily a tangible sense of things – but sense that I can deal with and accept in my head. I learned a lot about Buddha and his experiences of encountering all the problems of life and I could probably answer any question someone would have on how he came to the conclusions he did. But one thing I am still trying to do is accept the past.

Dr. Seuss said something to the affect of “Don’t be sad that it’s gone, be happy it happened.” Very basic concept and I am happy that I have wonderful memories of my family who have left this cycle of life – I also hope someday I will meet those people again in another life. But learning to accept what’s been taken from you unfairly is more than an overnight adventure. Letting go is more than a one day choice. Memories of your family and friends resonate at random moments in the present and future, sometimes they make you happy and you smile, sometimes they bring on the tears.

What did I gain from all of the research I did over the past few weeks? A clearer understanding that I am not really alone, everyone feels alone frequently – there is a cynic in us all when we seek out to make ourselves happy all the time because in reality we can’t be happy all the time because our good and bad experiences are all a part of our hearts. You never know when a moment will resurface and you will have to deal with it again. You never know how many times that moment or another will come back to haunt or to guide you. What you do know is, it’s only a moment and moving forward to make new moments is all that you can really do.

I will miss my family that has left this cycle of life forever, but I will chant to make sure that I remember all the moments of them I have in my memory and I will not let anything stand in the way of making new moments to remember forever. I believe that’s how great stories are made, by floods of memories and adventures we’ve been or wish to go on.

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