She was and is my eldest godchild, my goddessdaughter. I witnessed the marvel of her first breath.
When she died I thought, this is the first day in over twenty two years that the world experiences the absence of the breath of Elizabeth Blue. What will life be like without her here? I do not know. She is a person who informed my world. And each day, since September 23rd, has been different than any other day I’d lived thus far. It still is. I am still stunned. The miracle of her birth and the miracle of her death have me astonished. I am rolling, cajoling and stumbling over what the meaning of relationship is, what my response and responsibility to connection and action are, where stillness lives and how deep is the well of grief.
I do love the poem by David Whyte: The Well of Grief.
Time makes no sense any longer. It hasn’t for quite a while, maybe since Aurelia’s birth or from the first time I glimpsed beyond the veneer that there is only one thing happening at once. I can honestly say, I do not believe in time and that I like the concept, finally.
It’s funny, but the mind and time can sync me up without a second thought: “do it now, it’s time, ” or “make it happen,” or you only live once,” ( which I learned around a campfire in Napa this weekend is what the ‘younger folks’ are saying irreverently) or “now is the time, you can do it, hey, you are doing it.” And, just to pay my respects to paradox:, “there is nothing to do. Ever.”
Elizabeth is with me all the time. There is such a palpable living-with-me-ness in our relationship. Elizabeth is with me all the no-time.
Elizabeth got straight A’s her last semester at university, while having her chemotherapy treatment. That is how she lived into her dying process: she aced it. The last two months of her life were exemplary, a fulfillment of sorts. She was clear, kind, radiant, honest, transparent and called out the best from those around her. She was courageous, generous, compassionate and a heart at home. I could feel her, because she showed me, that she was building something for her departure. Something to leave with and something that would connect all of us with her after she wasn’t living in her body.
Why so young?
Well, that takes us back to time. There isn’t such a thing yet, it is compelling as an organizing concept. People around me offer their condolences and say, ” how unfair, she was too young,” and ” it shouldn’t have happened.” These sentiments show me that the person sharing may have resistance to their own grief, which helps me see my resistances. In my understanding of Nature, there is an inherent order to the things that occur and do not occur. Nature is animated and intimate and interwoven with the Everything and Nothing that we emerged from and deserves respect and awe and at least, a bow now and again. The spinning song of the universe is beyond us and so is our control of how long a beloved lives. Now don’t misunderstand, I have a strong preference that Elizabeth were still here, healthy, texting me about the boy she likes/doesn’t like, instead of what recovery from yesterday’s chemo was like. I wish we were making a plan for my next to visit to Tucson so we could hang out and laugh and smoke cigarettes and share stories. I wish she was going to be alive beyond my death so that she and Aurelia could be allies in this ‘growing up.’ I also accept that these feelings are normal and associated with the young one inside who wants to be in charge. Death teaches me: I am not in charge. I have never been. This isn’t even my own heart or body: it belongs to something larger. It belongs to the earth. And the earth is a spherical spaceship that belongs to the cosmos. We are all astronauts and we are all in relationship with something science calls the H particle and religion may call god and that poets call love and that healers call presence and that artists call creativity and that Elizabeth called Blue.
I know as young people, like my daughter (she is six) it is important to ask why. At the age of 37, while in the jungle of Peru, ‘why’ simply served to distance me from ‘what is.’ There is no answer to the depth of the ‘why’ I was asking that could quell my curiosity. The curiosity remains and part of my new question is: how? How do I open to accept what is unbearable? How do I accept this change that I do not want? How do I remain open to love and to a faith in the goodness of participating in life, in relationship, in my own broken heartedness and powerlessness? How do I find redemption? How do I honor the beloved Elizabeth?
I can honor her by accepting her death time was perfect. That her lifetime was perfect. Perfect meaning : in divine order. I am a part of it, she is, we all are in relationship to this Time.
Me: student. Elizabeth: teacher.
Lately, meaning the past month, she has been showing me how together we are. She has been trying to get my attention, sometimes successfully. She’s been arranging ways for us to communicate. It is a lot like how it was the two months before she died. Those days when she could read our minds; she didn’t need speech. But often we did. We who were still holding on to form and attached to the old ways of what relationship looks and sounds like. I came to simply trust what was happening in the moment with her and that experience of trust is what I am being schooled in right now. It seems she is showing me how to be alive and in the presence of that which never dies. it is not the easiest thing to describe: one, because it feels new so words cannot lasso the breadth of it and two, because it is a mind bender for me, which, I suppose, is the point! Yes, once again, something beyond my ordinary awareness and something that is outside the collective. That is always a stretch for me, cause I like company! Luckily she is good company and is giving me courage too.
The hummingbirds today that were clicking and buzzing and protecting territory and playing and then, just resting. They were with Elizabeth and me. I ask myself about the difference between being in connection with Source and being with Elizabeth. Nothing really. Especially since we are all god. And, yet, there is a distinct flavor/quality when I am with the Elizabeth in her essence. Something dynamic continues, as if she is looking out of my eyes and I am looking out of hers: we are sharing. The morning light on the water of the bay has a glow. This is not simply another morning, this is a blessing. Pause. She is seeing it, I am seeing it. I am feeling her see it with my eyes which are connected to my heart and she lives in my heart. Gratitude. Grateful for Elizabeth’s presence and for being alive today. Accepting the gift of this moment means accepting her death.
” I remember you, remembering me, remembering you.” -Martin Prechtel: translating a mayan song addressing the ancestors.
“I feed you, feeding me, feeding you.”
Just to be clear, I have been devastated. I have cried and felt like I’d like to die, rather than feel/bear this excruciating loss, because I am breaking. I have been out of my mind with disbelief. I know that in our shared archetypal theater, this death reads as tragedy. I am reverent about that sacrifice. The sacrifice of Elizabeth Blue. I cannot stand it. It hurts. And, so it is. So it is.