Death surrounds me now more then ever — swirling and whirling around me like a dark sweet wisp of a song you can hear off in the distance but can’t quite process the words. Wake up it says — you are needed. I listen.
There is my son’s friend a block away who left on his own will last month. No note. No rational explanation other then the stress of society to make good grades; a mother left confused and alone and broken into a million shards of her former self without a plan or the support she really needs. I am there and I listen but I can not fix it. I am holding space for her. Seeking answers with her that may never come, feeding her cats. This is the work. This is the spell I am called to.
There is the woman who two days ago lost her daughter to a respiratory ailment and the man I sat next to this morning who lost his son to a drug overdose and confided in me that he has never really grieved this loss and that because of my constant talk about grief he is seeking help. Something inside me awakens and yawns. I bloom.
There is my own Yia Yia who is 96 years old and every time the phone rings I wonder if she is ok. She weeps when she sees me because I never go home anymore. She is small and frail and ready for her next birthing. I wither. I don’t want to see her leave but I also want her to know the true face of God.
There is my Grammy who died last May — I am wearing her robe and making tea in her teapot — I rub my face with her cream, wear her red lipstick and eat from her French rose plates. She visits me and says “you have everything you need.” This is helpful. I stop gathering. She shows me the two of us eating ice cream cones on the beach. I remember the last time we really spoke she kept saying “you are so cute! How many boyfriends do you have?” Over and over due to the Alzheimers but I didn’t mind…say it again Grammy. I listen.
There is of course my nephew — my sweet talented nephew who did not have the full life his birth promised. There is the dream I had about a boy leaving us and my desperate search for what that meant. The survivors guilt — my own two boys healthy and alive. And the Mother Mary that came to me for the first time the day Loukas died and is now with me forever — one who knows the loss of a child. My own grief brings me to my knees and almost takes me. Why our boy? Why this child? Why my family? There are no answers — why anyone. He visits and leaves offerings and says “you need to write, I can help”.
There is a man I dated last year who lost his daughter when she fell off a cliff while hiking. I believe she was 20 and such a talented artist — such a huge loss — we wrote to each other about our losses, we fell in love and then we drifted off because living is the hard part.
I have other friends who lost daughters and Mothers and they write about it and share about it and it helps everyone — this thing we don’t want to talk about. I talk about it.
Three years ago I knew no one who had died suddenly — I had only one profound experience of grief when my Papou died when I was 21 and we had a short time to prepare for that. Yes it fucked me up and changed the course of my entire life — maybe I should revisit that…it is part of the spell.
There is this calling — from Spirit and the ancestors and the animals and trees and sweet Mother Earth — a calling I can no longer deny. I am a gatekeeper. I remember holding my GodFathers hand — death rattling in his chest, the hospice nurse in the next room. I read him our horoscope from the paper and talked about this and that. Then I grabbed his sweet soft hand and I held it and caressed it and looked into his face and I told him it was time to go — that it would be lovely and peaceful and more beautiful then he could ever imagine. That he had been a good man — the best man I had ever known and that everything would be ok and he could let go. I felt it. I flew down the stairs announced I had to go and got into my car. 10 minutes later my father called as I was driving over the Golden Gate bridge and said — your Nouno has passed. I knew he had heard me and that he loved me so deeply — this man whose eyes would light up when I entered a room. That was the pivotal moment that I knew this was a thing — that helping people crossover and reflect lovingly on their lives was a thing and something that I must do. It’s a birthing, a rite of passage — it is the next great step — that tremendous leap of Faith that you will be held in the light and everything returns to love.