We are entering a season of rebirth, and yet, I often find myself thinking about death these days. This month and next mark the anniversaries of the passing of five people I have loved, including my mother and father. Two more family members died just this month. As I contemplate that, and the climbing death toll in Japan, I feel that a part of me has died, too.
My mother was a Buddhist and taught me that death is not the end of life; rather, it is the end of the body we inhabit in this life—and that our spirit remains. Some days that comforts me and I can even feel my loved ones near me. I call them my Holy Ones. Other days, I cannot feel them…and feel utterly alone. And then I remember what my dad—raised a Catholic—taught me. Daddy told me that even when people we love die, they are still with us—they are inside us. All I need do is look in the mirror and I can see this is true. I have my mother’s eyes, hair and skin. And when I look deep within myself, I see my mother’s dignity and grace. I see my father’s love of language and humor and sense of community. My parents live inside me.
But even those with whom I did not share genes are within me. When they passed, they bequeathed to me things more valuable than worldly goods. They left behind the best parts of themselves. Lexi left me love, faith and courage. Andi left me compassion and possibility. Ann left me fidelity and sweetness. Now, it’s up to me to ensure these parts of them live on forever through me. So I pledge to carry on these parts of my Holy Ones: I will be love, faith and courage. I will be compassion and possibility. I will be fidelity and sweetness.
In the face of death and destruction, the best we can do for those who pass before us—whether we are related or not—is to live in such a way that they continue in us. Will you join me in that?
I send you my love, peace and prayers.