It is like an undergarment for me now. When I get up in the morning, I am grateful that I am breathing and can maneuver through another day. Being aware of death in everyday life means that we can appreciate the small moments and little kindnesses with a secret magnifying glass. Even my children have been noticing the shifts in our family life because they cannot go on being selfish and material when they witness that it all drops off. It all falls away. We love deeply and without words our friends, family, art, music, and spirit, more than our first car, phone, or computer. Then it all fades away. It doesn't seem fair, does it? I believe two things bind us, all creatures big and small: love and death.
What would you grab if your house were on fire, if you had to save your own life in a minute? When I was a child I put all of my special material things in my room in a large black garbage bag, just in case. I kept the bag near my bedroom door, checking its contents daily for two weeks. One day during spring cleaning time when I went to school, my mother called the Salvation Army to pick up some bags and boxes of things the family no longer needed. She saw the bag in my room and gave it to the men in the big truck who came that day. When I arrived home from school and discovered the precious bag missing, I wailed for its loss, like a death of a friend. My mother said she was sorry and would replace what she could. After a couple of weeks, I didn't miss those things at all anymore, and forgave my mother sooner than that. This lesson learned was so monumental for a young girl. Things we can replace, but people we cannot.
This prepared me for losing the family tradition of being a collector, a pack rat. When I modeled from country to country for eleven years, I easily shed the things that wouldn't fit into my suitcase. I always packed too much, and then let things go. Even our closest pals die. Our family, our lovers leave us for another realm. Practicing letting go of the material allowed me to see the bigger picture.
So what doesn't leave? Our essence, our legacy, our love, joy, bliss, juju. Death also leaves those behind with the birth of creativity along with coping, of thriving after surviving. After my brother's death I was able to fully finish the chapter on death in my third book. I honor his life and his love with my books and my yoga practice. I dedicate one pose to him daily.
What has death birthed inside of you? I want to hear your story.