My father and mother in law died this winter within weeks of each other. My husband, David, and his family and I buried Sylvia in New Jersey on Sunday. I have been imagining us as orphaned little kids holding hands by an open grave, trying to carve out a little piece of happiness for ourselves as we transit through this life.
For no apparent reason, I feel closer to everyone and I believe it’s the impact of watching these two powerful beings disappear. I feel bonded with David, and my sisters, and stepmother, and somehow closer with this moment. It feels more vivid, naturally focused and undistracted. Sometimes I look at people in the street and think — Oh my god, you are going to have to die too! It’s an image-laden thought about the physical process. What I saw looked like hard work for the ones who were dying.
I want to get up the steam to write about these events a bit more — later. But for now, I will speak from a tired, stunned, soft and somewhat foggy-feeling space. There was terrible beauty. A kind of deep celebration, holding each dying person’s life in its wholeness. The completion of their process made it impossible to continue blaming them or doubting the value of who they had been — seeing them in all their facets, with the life of joys and pains and all the events they faced. Then the the mystery of contemplating the process of death itself. Why? There is no answer, really, only that it is this way.
This season has felt transforming for me, although I can’t help wishing these people had not been constrained to die. But it is the same force as living. As Dylan Thomas said, “The force that through the green fuse drives the flower/drives my green age.” And the brown age, and the stark black and white.