Death In The Family

“All alone, I came into the world
All alone, I will someday die
Solid stone is just sand and water, baby
Sand and water, and a million years gone by “

Beth Nielsen Chapman, Sand and Water

Helen recently lost her sister Irene to cancer.  The last ten days or so were dedicated to arranging her funeral and dealing with the loss of someone so near, so close.  Needless to say, the experience was especially tiring for all concerned given the stress, the fear of our own impending mortality, and the thousand dramas that always accompany the death of an immediate family member.

But we are acclimating now, as the passage of time requires us to do.  There is an inevitability to the process of adjustment, just as there will be when one of us is the one to pass on.  And in that process is salvation; in that process is the understanding that we are all part of something greater, something that continues on its way even as we no longer are able to contribute our share.  Whether you call that something god, nature, the great mandala, or the life force, it continues on its relentless way toward an inscrutable goal we haven’t the capacity to grasp.

And in this way, each individual death is life affirming.  Affirmation is to be found both in the gathering of family and friends that inevitably occurs following the death of someone close, and in the fact of  our adjustment to a new reality no matter how difficult the process.  Affirmation is found in the realization that life is the sum of the whole, and that each of us is but a single integer within an inestimable entirety.  Affirmation is found in the knowledge that life will continue long after we are gone, no matter how different the circumstances in which it will toil on, no matter how different or unrecognizable to us it may become within the confines of those circumstances.

So here it is Saturday already – the second Saturday after Irene’s passage.  The first was more difficult because a funeral lay ahead; the second is easier since the funeral lies in the past.

And so it goes.

About Gavin Stevens

Humptulips County is the wholly fictional on-line residence of Stephen Ellis, a would-be writer, an avid fan of William Faulkner and his Yoknapatawpha County, and a retired lawyer.
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