I'll likely be rambling through the rest of this, just needing to get my thoughts on paper*. Feel free to abandon ship right now and not read any further, if you wish. But be fairly warned if you choose to continue. I didn't make you do it. Thanks!
*I love expressions like "thoughts on paper" and "I'll cc you on that." We don't really often put thoughts on actual paper and when was the last time you made a carbon copy of a note? Adages that have evolved from their meaning when I was a kid make me smile.
photo courtesy of Tracy
I. Yoga of loss
Last Monday, at the beginning of yoga class, our teacher, Maureen, asked if there was anything in particular we wanted to work on. "Hip openers," I said. I needed to release some of the sorrow I'd been carrying all week and hip openers are designed for releasing emotion in a big way. Just what my body was craving. We did several hip openers throughout class (including a wonderfully long pigeon pose) and as I breathed through each asana, releasing on the exhale, I could feel these sticky bits within me releasing their hold and opening up, sometimes with a soft "pop!" sound. I could feel my breath become fuller, my clarity more clear. I really love hip openers, even when I'm not holding any deep emotion. Bonus: they're a wonderful release from the spondylolisthesis and sciatica pain. Great stuff.
At the end of class, as were guided to lie still and relax in savasana - that state of surrender without attachment, being aware but not engaged - I decided I would like to softly think of my uncle and feel blessings for him during this time. I relaxed my body, closed my eyes, opened my heart and aimed my love at an image of him in my mind. As soon as I saw his image, though, I felt this sudden rush of love coming from that image ... and then very quickly, I felt others rush forward with him - my mom (oh, Mom!), my aunt, uncles, grandparents, friends - and they all hurtled love at me like an uncontrolled flow from a fireman's hose. I was briefly unnerved at first, sputtering against the unexpected flood, then I relaxed and opened my heart ("receive what you have been given") and I could receive it all, feeling it fill the spaces just opened up by the earlier poses in class.
II. The Vigil-formerly-known-as-the-Rosary
Thursday night was the Vigil. Pre-some-change-in-the-church rules, we used to have a Rosary service on an evening prior to the funeral. Everyone kneeling, rosary beads in hands - some of those hands smooth and young, others gnarled with arthritis and wrinkled with time - the priest would begin each prayer and those gathered would complete it, in a call-and-response cadence. You do five decades of those - the prayers droning in a sonorous rhythm, buzzing in the chapel like bees on a hot summer day - and you're in such a wonderfully meditative state, feeling that interconnectedness with the Sacred within. (I can always use more interconnectedness with the Sacred within.)
Nowadays, though, it's a Vigil; you get a nice, small service and, for the Rosary part, it's one decade and you're on your way. Seems like my tio got cheated.
My mom had always said she wanted her full five decades when she crossed over, and my dad and brother made darned sure she got 'em when she crossed in 1990, by golly. My brother had to make a special request, but I'm so glad Mom got it the way she wanted. I have strong memories of sitting near her feet as a kid, with her sitting in the upholstered rocker (which now sits in my living room), her beautiful crystal rosary beads in her fingers, eyes gently closed, her lips slightly moving, the soft sussurous whisper of the prayers from deep within her soul. (I can feel the depth of her faith in those moments.)
At her rosary, we prayed every last prayer, moved through every single bead. After the service, several older women all gathered around Mom's open casket. In a bit of a semi-circle, they began to sing, a strikingly beautiful sound, a capella, with deep and powerful emotion. The tears silently coursed down their cheeks as they bravely sang for her. They'd been schoolgirl friends of my Mom and they all used to sing together in church choir. And now they gathered and sang for Mom, hands held together, arms around one another, singing her over to Heaven.
III. Losing my stories
My mom came from a family of ten children. Growing up, we had a lot of tios and cousins that we'd visit with very regularly, some were on the same block when I was very little. All the family was very close and we cousins grew up together.
From those ten, there are now two uncles who remain on this side. Gathered together for my Uncle Art this week, we all shared a lot of "remember" stories -
"remember that time with the garter snake?",
"remember driving through those fields to tio's house?",
"remember how we used to ..."
These are the only people who know my childhood stories first-hand, who have known me from my beginning on this side. As each one ages and moves on, they take my stories with them, one by one. Each one has a different piece of my story, various bits of my life's narrative ... each unique piece making a "pop!" sound as it is released and disappears. Pop! Fifty years from now - likely, less than that - there will be no human alive who knows my childhood stories first-hand. There won't be any memory of them left on this side.