Monday, November 29, 2010

On Death & Dying

The past 2 weeks were full of sorrow, interspersed with family and friends, memories and laughter, talk and tears and reunions. Tears at the loss of my Dad, who will never envelop me again in his mighty hug, talk to me enthusiastically about his latest passion, recommend books or share ideas with me. He was a passionate man. And irritating, truth be told. Opinionated and wanting his own way on so many levels. But full of joi de vive and embracing life and the wonders of it in the same way he would embrace those he loved- with his arms wide, grabbing us to his chest and holding us tight against him. I can hardly believe that he is gone.

At the funeral service I stood to read the scripture verse and I couldn't speak. I stood in front of everyone and just stood  there, trying hard not to cry, breathing in and out, slowly, fighting to gain composure in a situation that demanded wailing and lamentation. Overwhelmed by the finality of the day, no matter how glorious the weather. The day heralded a permanent thing and I came unprepared. I came vunerable, recently orphaned and feeling lost. Memories and emotions struggling against each other, the good and the bad and the inevitable, vying for attention, demanding their say and turn at justice. I was unable to shut off the noises and demands of my emotions and just stand there sedately and read. I wanted wailers and then I wanted a party. Wailers to mourn and cry the loss of Dad's life and the loss of whatever our relationships held that would never be healed. And a party to laugh and celebrate all that he was, all that he gave, all that he knew and shared and was passionate about.

I've thought a lot about death in the past year. And the passage between the Land of the Living and what comes next. And when I die I want mourners and lamentation. I want there to be a space to share out-loud the heart ache and discomfort of my death and the fact that I'm irritating and opinionated and drive people crazy and I've left things un-done and left hurt and pain behind. And then I want a party. With dry red wine and sparkling white, and music and dancing and laughter and stories about how I've embraced this place and the people in it but how now I'm on to the Real Thing.

And when my kids, or friends, stand to read and take a while to regain their composure I hope that there is a  hush, like there was for me last week. A quiet reverence for the things that aren't spoken.