“Death is the only wise advisor that we have. Whenever you feel, as you always do, that everything is going wrong and you’re about to be annihilated, turn to your death and ask if that is so. Your death will tell you that you’re wrong; that nothing really matters outside its touch. Your death will tell you, ‘I haven’t touched you yet.”
― Carlos Castaneda,
This past Saturday, I drove to a little town west of Taos, New Mexico…. to visit 2 women whom I hadn’t met but had briefly communicated with. Both these women are in some way involved in the arts and I have been looking for places where my partner, Jody Armijo [the Brown Piglet] ….
….could exhibit some of his art. *You can buy Jody’s art at LA CASA DE ROSAS
Many of these little towns have arts and craft festivals in the summer …. so that’s why I went.
On the way I stopped for a moment at Sipipu Ski Valley and while I was sitting in the parking lot in my truck, I heard a song I’ve never heard before….searching for it this morning, I can’t find it but the words were something like “Did you have something more to say when the angels took you by surprise..I’ll be your songwriter today..”
I drove on to visit Jean, the first of the 2 women..at her gallery. I always bring some sort of gift when I’m going to visit someone for the first time and for Jean I brought my most favorite documentary film that we have made, Turning Toward the Morning….about the loss of a child, about LIFE…..
When I handed Jean the DVD, she told me that she had lost 2 children, her only two. She didn’t talk about their deaths except to say that her daughter had died just a year ago and that she would be having a celebration of her daughter’s life in May. She said she would pass the DVD on to a friend who had lost a child 26 years ago and then she said “It doesn’t matter how much time passes, the grief never goes away.”
I drove on then to visit Natalie who is in charge of an annual cultural celebration in this tiny town. We talked first about a common connection we had, a friend who we had both planned to meet with at the celebration in the summer. But this friend had died suddenly and unexpectedly a few months ago. We went on to talk about other things: where Jody could show his art, the growing drug problems, the lack of restaurants in this small town etc. and in the course of the conversation, Natalie told me about her niece who had died very recently. She had been shot in the head accidentally when 2 boys she was with, got into a fight. She had left behind a 3 year old son.
Driving home, I thought about how everything that day had seemed to be connected: the song I heard, the DVD I brought to Jean, the friend who had brought Natalie and me together before she died and Natalie’s niece who had died so young and unexpectedly.
And I thought too about the story of the Buddha and the mustard seed. The story goes something like this: Kisa Gotami’s young son had died and she went to see the Buddha hoping he could bring her son back to life. He told her he would but first she had to visit every family in the village and bring back a mustard seed from any family who had never experienced a death. She went from house to house but she could find no one who had not had a death in their family.
“Kisa Gotami finally came to realize that there is no one in the world who had never lost a family member to death. She now understood that death is inevitable and a natural part of life.”
Putting aside her grief, she buried her son in the forest. Shen then returned to the Buddha and became his follower.
Death has been my teacher in this lifetime: the death of my mother when I was nine, the death [suicide] of my brother when he was 16 and I was 19, a late miscarriage I had on my 21rst birthday plus the usual expected deaths: grandparents, uncle, father, stepmother etc.
For the early part of my life–teens and early 20s, I thought that I must be a REALLY bad person to have all these things happen but later, after time spent with Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, I understood that death was my teacher and I set out to learn from it.
So I started working with terminally ill patients
and sometimes with parents who had lost a child
Cory Enebrad died of cancer at age 9 and like many children who die at a young age, he was ‘an old wise soul’. The words of this song are his and his mother’s
by Shirley and Cory Enebrad
Where are you going my little one, little one?
Where are you going my little one, my son?
I’m going with God to the land of the light,
the light we all shine in our hearts.
And why are you going my little one, little one?
Why are you going without me my son?
I’m going with God to the land of the sun.
My time here on earth is all done.
I loved being with these people. Visits with them always put my life in perspective because many [not all], had reached a place that I was unconsciously seeking: a place where there was no future or worries or fear. A place of peace because there was no future.
And as I spent time with them and also with parents who had lost a child, I found too, that many were very in touch with ‘the other side’. I remember a man we took care of who was in the very last stages of AIDS. One day he said to me “My father is coming to see me in 2 weeks.” I knew that his father had died several years before but I also saw that he was in touch with his father in spirit and exactly 2 weeks later, he died. His father had come to get him. I have written a lot about this in previous posts so I won’t go into it here but just to say that this world of spirit is as real, maybe more real than the one most of us live in.
And I found that this world was accessible to the most unexpected people. My stepmother was one of the most superficial people I have ever known. She was completely untouched by other people’s suffering and I remember when I was about 13, riding in the car with her and her best friend, sitting in the back seat and listening to their absolutely SHALLOW conversation. Making faces at them behind their backs and wondering how anyone could be this ridiculous.
My stepmother’s life consisted of going shopping at the very best stores, taking expensive trips to England, Scotland, Russia, India [she never saw the poverty there] and playing bridge. She loved parties and vodka martinis and she would have nothing to do with anyone who wasn’t, as she put it “from a nice family”. An example of a nice family would be the George Bush family who lived down the street from us in Houston.
My stepmother and I were not close and didn’t like each other until a few years before she died. She was in her 90s then, most of her friends had died and I knew she was lonely so I started keeping in touch with her more and more.
One Friday night, I called her. She had been diagnosed with lung cancer but she was not expected to die imminently…. the doctors had given her at least 6 months or more.
“I love you and I miss you. When are you coming to see me?” she asked. “I’ll come on Monday” I said. I was in New Mexico and she was in Houston. ” I won’t be here.” she said “I’m going to fly away.” And she died the next morning.
The weekend visits with Jean and Natalie were a reminder, a good reminder of how fragile life is or as Anishnabe Elder, Dave Courchene once put it ” Our time is so short here on this little planet.”
It’s only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on Earth – and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up – that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it was the only one we had. ~
I just looked outside to see 2 of my wolfdogs playing. Apollo, who I rescued last summer from a very abusive situation, is playing with Shiloh, the alpha. Apollo, the omega, is even putting Shiloh down on the ground. Shiloh is allowing this. Their big wolf tails are wagging and they are leaping in the air with joy and I feel so happy watching them……. And after 3 days of dealing with wet wood, I finally got a nice fire started in the wood stove. Death has not touched me yet tonight.
A favorite poem followed by my usual request:
BUT YOU DIDN’T
Remember the time you lent me your car and I dented it?
I thought you’d kill me…
But you didn’t.
Remember the time I forgot to tell you the dance was
formal, and you came in jeans?
I thought you’d hate me…
But you didn’t.
Remember the times I’d flirt with
other boys just to make you jealous, and
I thought you’d drop me…
But you didn’t.
There were plenty of things you did to put up with me,
to keep me happy, to love me, and there are
so many things I wanted to tell
you when you returned from
But you didn’t.
If you want to contribute to the continuation of this blog and myself, you can on my gofundme page. There are many stories on that page about how I arrived at where I am today BUENO AND THANK YOU.