Breath of Life
You have brought us tastes of the sun, the stars, of hope.
In your wisdom and love, we have flowered and grown.
Your song has added the melody of kindness to the universe. Your soul its beauty.
Two words that have cut and run so deep.
Lately I have felt the looming judgement of those who say they care, but who really don’t. Lately I have felt misunderstood, when people won’t listen, when boundaries go ignored. Lately I haven’t known how to cope with being sick, and the loneliness it brings. I haven’t known how to be strong when soft isn’t an option.
We were not created to feel this way.
Yes, I am realistic. Life is a cycle of sorrows and joys. But in wanting to get back to joy, I knew I had to change, to search for an affirmation. For what is good. For hope. For gratitude. For self-compassion, and why it matters. For why this pain is worth it.
And ultimately, for the thing that joins us all.
For a few hours on a recent afternoon, with an open heart, I chose to spend my time among the peace of the departed, at a modest cemetery not far from my home. I understand that it isn’t a conventional choice, but it helps me. I walked along the rows of stone and would sit quietly at times, taking in the dates and dashes in between, names and words like poetry, pictures with the loveliest faces frozen in time. I could feel the agony of the shattered hearts left behind, the pain of lost moments and promises. My tired legs carried me up and down the slight hills as something new and interesting would catch my eye from so far away. The chiseled granite revealed the most beautiful things. I could see what mattered to them in their precious, earthly time: sports, art, animals, charity, family. All of them belonging to someone.
All of them loved.
My heart and mind inevitably went to why~why are some dashes so short and others long; why some of us are blessed with this gift in a way that others are not, why some must endure loss in ways some will never understand. As I walked and contemplated, the question only deepened. My brother’s elementary school classmate, lost to cancer nearly 26 years ago. A grandfather and grandson who loved to make art together, now together in eternal rest. Babies who lived only a day, or four, or ten. A college student I saw in the newspaper, taken by a drunk driver on the 4th of July. Our beliefs vary far and wide to make sense of the tragedies of this human existence. Someday, at our time, I believe the answer comes.
When asked about death, Helen Keller said “it is no more than passing from one room into another. But there is a difference for me, you know. Because in that room I shall be able to see.” My precious soul dwells inside this fragile, this temporary, this mortal shell; this ridiculously cool, amazing miracle made of bone and muscle, molecules, earth and the dust of distant stars. And when its time is up, after this painfully short stint in this excruciatingly gorgeous place, I will go to where we are whole, where we are never alone, a place defined by that one thing that binds us.
It is always there.
Until that moment comes, the message is clear.
And go forward always knowing that love knows no end.