Last month in the span of one week I experienced the intimacy of birth and death, of the inhale and exhale of life. I felt the joy and sorrow as one single concerto. To be in the presence of these powerful forces was humbling. The rawness of loss, the fear of letting go, the tenderness of real love and connection, I was in awe of the courage and strength it takes to give birth and to die. I have been present at these moments before, but never in tandem. During this numinous time all else in my world seemed to pale, to become less significant, less important. The seen and the unseen were in communion and I was being called to witness their eternal union, it was time to pause, to witness and to appreciate the full cycle of life.
I held space for the experience, being present to soothe, comfort, adjust pillows, apply a cold compress, and be still. I was there to lend support, to love, listen and laugh. There were moments ripe with vulnerability, for the opportunity to surrender to the pain and suffering of loss and to practice compassion. No resistance. The unknown was sitting bedside, and there was nothing to do but to BE in the not knowing ‘when’. The beauty of impending birth and death is that there is a stripping away of all that is extraneous, of what truly does not matter and all forms of pretense, denial, modesty, and vanity are shed. There is an authenticity, a realness that permeates the air, that seeps through the skin. Nothing but the truth can penetrate these experiences. The eyes open and they close, the heart beats and then it stops, the voice cries out and then it is silent, there is movement and stillness. I watched myself as these moments pierced my heart, brought tears, shook me and woke me to the preciousness of life. Breathing in, breathing out, I am alive, and I too am dying, dying to the moment, to the mystery, to the uncertainty, to the helplessness, to the joy, to the awakening…
In my knowing there is only the unborn and the undying, and that appearances are deceptive. In India there is the belief in a life only appearing and disappearing. In other words life is existent, only the form changes, we neither really come or go, and it is an illusion of the senses to believe so. But all the philosophy in the world will not stop the pain of seeing someone you love take their last breath, speak their last words, or look one final time into your eyes. No matter how long we have practiced non-attachment or walked our spiritual path we are not immune to the grief of loss. Nor will it prepare you for the overwhelming love and and absolute joy that fills the heart when a new life emerges.
In my own life I have always kept these processes intimately close, as a constant reminder of the eternal cycle of life, of the true Oneness of the inhale and exhale. Birth and death have taught me the beauty of letting go, of embracing uncertainty with some measure of humor and faith, of being fearless in the face of the unknown. More than anything they have made me more mindful and more awake. I am so grateful to the newly born Hayden who has so deeply touched my heart and who has brought such wonder, and to Laura who left this world with such a legacy of love and generosity. Thank you my beloved’s for letting me share in your light.
love, love, love,
Written: September 20, 2013