Don’t Forget to Celebrate

Have you noticed?

Whenever someone dies, someone important to the freedom days of our youth, someone who meant something to us along the pathway of our grand unfolding, someone whose life was simply tangled up with our own, we mourn. It doesn’t seem to matter if that person was enduing immense pain, taken out in a flash of light unexpectedly, or passed unawares only to be discovered at some later moment, something within us feels it was too soon and we mourn.

The other day, I went looking for two friends, a couple who I hadn’t heard from for quite a while. Conducting internet searches, looking them up on social media, I found first one and then the other, both dead. I was sad, sad that I hadn’t taken the time to look sooner, to wonder where they went, to reach out. I was also surprised, for they left this plane prior to their 60th birthdays and the last time I saw them they both seemed so vital, so alive. 

What I wasn’t, was elated for them, and that caused me to wonder, to muse about in-built beliefs, beliefs about death so deep they are not questioned.

Having watched Kenny die, I used to say that I didn’t fear death. That was before I actually had to meet mine, before I spent two years waiting for the final straw to break. It felt inevitable that I wouldn’t be around much longer, that I couldn’t withstand many more shocks to this system. Funny, when I finally gave up, truly completely absolutely gave up needing any straw at all, this body started to recover.

That, by the way, isn’t a recommendation or a remedy. It’s just my story, not yours. All of our stories are different and have different ways they unfold.

Sitting in death’s intimate waiting room, I truly discovered that it is not only nothing to fear, death is an idea, an appearance, an experience in name only.  And yet … it is also a precious experience of losing or being lost, the sensation and perception that a part of oneself — for all this is myself — is no longer part of the game. Your playmate is called home for dinner, only she won’t return for tomorrow night’s fun.

There is nothing to mourn and there is everything to mourn. The recognition that death is the illusion, that one’s return is to be celebrated, sits right here with the loss, the grief, the pull of sensation, the remembrance of what was and what is no more. 

They are not two. There is not two. The idea of spiritual and material, of life and death, of a timeline running steadily from womb to casket and the reality of timelessness are not two. Of course we mourn, and let’s not fail to celebrate as well, even if we celebrate with tears pouring down our faces.

So caught in our loss, we humans tend to forget the celebration, overlook the joyous transformation …  and that’s okay too.

Death has a way of making us more human, of reminding us of what was and is no more, of all the experiences we will not share with those who left before us. If we let it, it also strips us down to basic aliveness, to the experience within us right here, right now. As the tear dry, perhaps that’s another gift to celebrate.

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