The Promise

Oh God … she squirms … there’s no way out!

No exit. No escape. Nowhere to go. No one to get there. There’s just this, in all its apparently simple complexity, its seemingly complex simplicity.

People, when they come face to face with it, talk about dying. It is the big topic, the one people would rather ignore, deny, or shove under the bed. They can for a while, that is until they open the door and the unwanted guest steps across their threshold. But why wait? Death is a key player, an important feature of the game and it offers more than it appears to take.

Death seems to happen to every one of us. Does it, really? I guess that depends on how you define death. What death really is, is a really good inquiry. It’s easy to default to what you think you know. Do that and you miss a grand opportunity.

It seems that people die. My sweet Kenny appeared to die nearly 12 years ago. My dear friend, Sunny disappeared three months later, and Mom took her exit about 18 months after that. According to the consensus storyline, they died.

Even though I knew that death was an illusion, I didn’t know it all the way in then. Even if I had I would have still grieved. Grief overwhelmed me. Losing three beloveds so close together felt like I was being stripped of all things good. Grief is never for the ones who leave. It is for the one left behind. It is the way love is rechanneled, repurposed, how it finds an outlet, allowing it to flow freely in the world. It is also a way that love teaches, instructs, breaking through unneeded beliefs.

I had a lot of love to rechannel. All the love I had for those magnificent beings took a long time to find its way through the grief. I’m not sure it fully made it. It doesn’t feel like it did or will or that it is even possible. Perhaps that grief powers enables fuels the current of my expression in ways that I can’t imagine. That feels accurate.

I also had a lot of hidden beliefs – things I took as given – that were worn away, eroded, abraded by the forces that rechanneled me. Love truly does work in mysterious … and often painful … ways.

When Kenny was ill, we had a joke. He used to say, “Where would I go? There’s only here. There’s only now.” I’d look at him, and his precocious grin, and smile back.

He was, according to the story, leaving. I, however, wasn’t, at least not as immediately as him. Even though I knew it was true, that he wasn’t, couldn’t go anywhere, it still hurt. As I sat on his bed, the night he died, I extracted a promise: find a way to let me know you’re okay. It wasn’t hard. He was more than willing to give it. He would always give me anything that was his to give. A few hours later, he was gone. The body remained, but Kenny was gone. That which animated the body, the aliveness that was Ken, disappeared.

Since that day, Ken has kept his promise over and over again. He didn’t leave. He is always here. There is nowhere but here. When I need to channel his electrical skills, I simply know what to do. When I drove the winding road up to the hospital, our hospital, for the first time after his death, he was sitting next to me. I felt him take his seat when I contracted, remembering the many times we drove that road together. I saw him in the glimmer of light and color. He has physically touched me, lifting me, scooting me over to make room to sit down with us, surprising our friends on the other side of the table. How does formlessness do that? It’s a mystery.

I’d say he kept his promise.

He opened my eyes and heart beyond what I thought I knew, opening me to the puzzle that is life, this life that doesn’t end, that couldn’t end, that is everything and nothing – the expression of infinite aliveness. Life is the ever-changing appearance, the hum of activity, the hive of creation. It is the infinity loop appearing and disappearing and reappearing again …  a masterpiece of formation fabrication generation … a playground of light and shadow, color and texture … a hidden secret infinitely revealing itself.

And I am That! You are too! There is nothing but that pretending to be not that, to be separate!

Oh God!! … she smiles … there’s no way out.

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