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Everything Is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

My circle sister, Donna got hit by a car while she was taking a walk down a residential street with her husband.  She died on Wednesday, February 5th.  How do I make sense of that?  How does Donna taking a walk with her husband + Jason Lutz not paying attention for a moment = we will never see Donna again?

I don’t know.

If we perform magic, shouldn’t we know?  Shouldn’t my circle have been able to save Donna?  What is the point of this if we could not have saved Donna? I think it’s very easy when things are going well to say that if you are alert enough, canny enough, good enough at magic that you can lessen the pain of all situations.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    So sorry to hear about your friend. The loss of my baby brother when I was 13 (and a Christian) led me to doubt that any such loss
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I feel your pain, too. There doesn't seem to be any religion, whether mainstream or far out, that can keep its practitioners from
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    I am sorry for your loss too. I hear your anger and confusion; I felt the same when my husband was in a horrible, life-threatenin

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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   "to the seeds,
    to the beginnings; to one clear word for which
    there is no disguise and no alternative.”
    ~ Brackenbury

I have grown accustomed to mourning and rejoicing in tandem. It seems throughout my life some of the most profoundly joyful moments, good news, and inconspicuous but thrilling arrivals have found their way to me in the footsteps of sadness, change, and difficult times. If there is a lesson in this trend, I am still learning, growing with every new turn and opportunity to respond and adapt.

Just as I was accepting a job offer and entirely new course in life – including a major residential move – a friend lapsed into serious condition, then left this old, dusty world just a day beyond my acceptance of this new path. I was watching deer move delicately across a green meadow, the new morning sweet and endless, as my friend struggled for breath and held the hands of friends and family too numerous to name. Just as I stumbled up a mountain path, where a small doe stood sniffing the air, my family – back in Indiana - dealt with struggles of their own, how to honor an aging loved one’s wishes while serious health issues pressed against good conscience. And all the while my own conflicts provided sullen backdrops against the abundant beauty around me.

 Is it right to be happy when others are not?

How do we fully live while grieving for those who are dying or have gone on?

I grapple with my need to move quickly in the midst of so much emotion. By nature, I am a mover. To remain still, coming from my history and character, welcomes potential peril. I move on, even when my heart is broken and everyone around me lingers, catatonic in hurt. I move with the clouds. I say goodbye as the wind pushes memory and time over ridges, against the horizon. I carry stories. I speak them, and speak through them. I move, too, in the gray space, as everyone naturally moves away from our grasp. Friends, lovers, and family circle the wheel, just as I.

There’s ache in my heart for the many losses faced over the years, for the pains and sicknesses that have plagued those I love, and for the reality that, yes, our limited, linear life becomes ever more apparent as loved ones fly off into hereafter. Childhood, for those fortunate enough to be awarded this innocent time, is short. For many, childhood is merely a time to fight for survival. Fair or unfair, the wheel turns. We mourn. We move on.

As I reflect upon my time in Colorado and the deer that greeted me on my morning walks, I am reminded of a moment of holiness and complexity in my twenties. Holy is a word I choose intentionally. I was facing a devastating loss, dealing with the inevitable end to an ugly situation. I was very alone – not in the physical sense – but the dejected sense of being alone, when surrounded by people who could not or would not understand or acknowledge who I am or the obvious circumstances around us. I was about to walk into a hotel, when I saw a couple of young does rush across the busy county road. The first made it in a daring leap between automobiles. The second was not so lucky. Just as she made it into the first lane, a truck hit her hind legs… and without the slightest pause, continued to drive away. The doe stumbled twice but managed to cross into the National Forest land just beyond.

Without thinking, I left my stunned companion and darted across the road and scrambled under the barbed wire fence. Looking back, my companion simply walked into the hotel and closed the door – a final impasse. I keenly remember an urge to find the doe. I knew she must be in bad shape, if even alive, and I couldn’t stop my legs from moving into the thick green tangle of late summer foliage. I must have walked for an hour before reluctantly turning around to head back. That’s when I saw her. She was on her side, just beyond a thick stand of trees, lying on ferns. I neared and met her eyes. I could tell she was dying. I leaned down and placed a hand on her side as she took her last few breaths.

There was something in the acknowledgment of that final moment of life that was comforting. Sad, yes, but… the truth of being fully there, present and with this transition, soothed my mind. And, something tells me my being there soothed her also.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

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On Wednesday, I placed a soft blanket on my lap.  I invited my cat to be comforted. His breath was labored. His body was clearly shutting down. The will to live is stronger than any other emotion or drive. He wanted to live. He was bewildered. He knew he was losing the battle. He collapsed on the blanket, took two long inhales and let out a long moan that was the end of his life. The sound of death is perhaps unlike any other. The sound of that sigh – I cannot describe. Poetry has no language here - my words utter only stupid rhetoric. To experience this is more than can be expressed, but I try. I try because it is vastly important to me to know what death is and to not hate life for its cruel finality. Right now, it is difficult to feel peace with this life. I struggle to understand why - despite the ache of the body and the deep, known suffering - the will to live is so strong. When he passed, it was not like some say, this ethereal light leaving. His eyes shone bright. His body, warm. It was my light that diminished. My eyes were those that shut, unwilling to see the end. I could not sense the sweat and blood, or hear the hum of awaiting insects near the dirt that would cover him.

Most of my life I have been afraid of getting close to anyone. I covered my pain in drugs and alcohol, escape and romance. I hated my body - the body that knows everything - the cells that die and generate, the hold of lonesome evenings, the sharp brutality of disease and ache. Death has been marked in my life with distinct dreams of an understanding my body knew but my mind refused. My paternal grandfather died when I was 16. I remember a dream I had immediately following his passing. He sat in his armchair and warned me of events to come. Later, I would dream of my paternal grandmother who asked me to refute the truth. When I said I would not, her body fell into the earth as I tried to hold her. With each attempt to catch her fall, she fell deeper and farther away from me. My maternal grandfather died a few years ago and I went for a drive along the Sierra Estella mountain range. Somehow I knew he was there, up among those gneiss and schist peaks, looking over the desert valley, a terrain that must have seemed so stark and foreign to him. Whether the Estrella's were the projection of my grandfather's strength, or he was actually there - watching over me one last time - matters little. He was there when I was born. I was to witness his departure. It's an unspoken deal we make in love and community - offering protection only to know there are some things our efforts can never overcome.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Aleah, I am sorry to hear of your loss. I just lost my own kitty, and know how it feels. I also commend you for selflessly using y
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    It's been awhile since I've read something reminding me of my dearest Ginger's sigh as she died. How you can't really describe it
  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    This was a beautiful meditation. I appreciate your experience and thank you for sharing it.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Words for Loss

My mother died early this morning, following a long illness and a rapid recent decline. In her spirit, I offer these words, taken from the Portland First Unitarian Church service last weekend. It's important to remember that all life passages are holy, and all are a cause for celebration, and honoring.

 

When love is felt or fear is known,
When holidays and holy days and such times come,
When anniversaries arrive by calendar or consciousness,
When seasons come, as seasons do,
Old and known, but somehow new,
When lives or born or people die,
When something sacred's sensed in earth or sky,
Mark the time.
Respond with thought or prayer or smile or grief.
Let nothing living slip between the fingers of the mind.
For all of these are holy things we will not, cannot, find again.

~Max. A Coots

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  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    Dear Susan, I am so sorry for your loss. If you feel the need/desire to talk, call me 888-724-3966. I lost my dad and mom as a yo
  • Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
    Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker says #
    Thank you, Anne....
  • Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
    Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker says #
    Thank you, Natalie. I appreciate it....

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