“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, nonjudgementally. It’s about knowing what is on your mind.” (John Kabat-Zinn)
” . . . no matter what happens, how you grieve is entirely up to you and is ok.” Wise words from your aunt. They felt so true before you passed, which was where my grief most actively expressed. And now I am reflecting on them further. They make me think of other words, like living and dying. Both are also entirely up to you, the royal you. Both are ok. Just simply, ok.
So I signed up for a year of mindfulness. And nope, that should not cost anything, but sometimes money motivates. ; ) I had to stop the introductory video at least ten times and mark the words I was hearing . . .
“Can we bring an openhearted spaciousness and a non-reactivity to the most difficult challenges of our lives?” John Kabat-Zinn. He’s a gooder.
“Honour our differences in a way that allows us to heal.” Tara Brach. She helped me find the words to address the reality that others felt it their right to oppose your choice in death.
“Mindfulness helps us discern the actual nature of our experience . . . . a sense of something infinitely possible.” Rick Hanson. This would be the peace I feel, that also feels like it needs no explanation.
“Sort and begin to distinguish one’s own inner experience . . . . also helps us develop a sense of wisdom as to how we approach situations.” Angela Kyodo Williams. There’s the rub. What do I hear inside and how do I hold it when I take myself outwards?
So you know what I hear in all of this, apart from myself? I hear your mantra, your challenge to self: Judge less, Love more. And I have begun to think about what this challenge meant for you, in a different way.
When you spoke about judgement in relation to others, I always felt it was the wrong word. I am not sure what the right one is, and could never find it when we spoke on this topic. Mind you, your voice boomed on the subject. Thou shalt not.
Ye shall discern. This might be my boom. But I think we need to keep the volume up on your words, so that its possible to really hear them.
We cower at the idea of being judged by others. We perceive it as something that comes from the outside, or is projected outward. The challenge I have been receiving from friends is to let what comes at me, be where it is. Don’t let it enter. And then I think of your words, and wonder if they were an outward request. “Please don’t judge me; love me.’ And now they go further, as the mindfulness quotes sit deeper than I did once, on the stairs. “Please self, don’t judge. Listen. Be. Grow.”
There was so much imperfection in your death, on the way to your death. Anger at what could not be. Impatience with what was. Fear at what might be. We both felt these things.
And in your death. That’s not where the peace sat. This is why I want your story to be known, among so many other reasons. You died in fear. Discontent. And that is ok. I review my actions and choices and hear that I did what I felt able in moment, and you accepted only what you were able. This was your death. You defined it.
I find myself thinking about a past belief, that letting waves wash over has never been enough for me. I need to dive in. Fake it ’til you make it, as they say. Seems that is how you found your peace. And the only way that can in any way be ok for me, is to simply let it be yours.
I want to cower at the idea that I feel so much peace. Why am I not grieving, by some common definition of the word? I am adjusting to your physical absence. I spoon my new buckwheat bolster pillow every night. I think about your hands. Imagine the weight of your elbow, leaning on my shoulder as we walked.
Someone once challenged me on my use of the word, “know.” He said we don’t really know anything, until we die. So I guess you have the upper hand on me now, Beardo. : ) Let’s go with this verb then – this is what I hear.
I hear that I grieved while you were alive. That we had a gift, the gift of preparation and passage. I had a long chat with a notary today, before he signed and sealed. He said he challenges his estate clients to go beyond “if” they die to “when.” It was surreal in the lead up, but we knew the when down to the hour.
I hear that I listened to myself as your death unfolded. I may have doubted and feared and raged and second-guessed until the day. But that morning I really felt I had a job to do, much like how I describe parenting to the one on the other end of my role in this regard. My job was to lead you out.
I was a particular kind of equal to the administering doctor. Ensure you said your good byes. Tell you that I loved you. Merge your willpower with my own and that of my nana. Your mom. The family in the room with us and beyond, in the living room. The city. Our village outside this home.
So when you had passed and I acknowledged that you were there and then gone, no sign beyond that, I got busy fighting for myself. Removed the bedding. Permanently. Distributed more of your things, an extension of your process but now my own too. Sent my wedding ring with yours, and disposed of my wedding dress. Let go that you did not respond when I told you my last, “I love you.”
I have let go, Beardo. I have let you go. And so now you are back, in this peace. And I am so fucking blessed to be in this moment. How could I possibly judge this good feeling that walks with me . . .
“The Heart is our greatest resource.” (Gord Downie)