The way the plovers cry goodbye.
The way the dead fox keeps on looking down the hill with open eye.
The way the leaves fall, and then there’s the long wait.
The way someone says we must never meet again.
The way mold spots the cake,
The way sourness overtakes the cream.
The way the river water rushes by, never to return.
The way the days go by, never to return.
The way somebody comes back, but only in a dream.
You’d think we’d be well prepared with all the goodbyes in our lives for the very next one. Looking back on some of those really painful times, “the last times,” I see that we are so busy avoiding the next goodbye, we can’t be ready for something we don’t want to happen. What’s the alternative? Are we to prepare for the worst all the time so we will be ready? Do we in this way say goodbye too early instead of holding on to the treasure that is before us on a given day? Can we do both - mourn the constant loss and sing our death song while holding fiercely to joy and that which we love? I’m guessing that in each of our lives we have had such periods in our lives like this – where “parting was such sweet sorrow” and that during those times we felt really alive.
I am recalling the death vigil of my father. He was in the hospital on life support when my mother asked all my siblings and myself to fly home. We did and then disconnected the machines. My father continued to live for another 24 hours. During that time I only left his room to go to the bathroom so that I would be with him when he died. I was. That whole time leading up to his last gasp my heart was torn open and my gut ached. Every irregular difficult breath he took was almost too intense to bear as was the knowledge that the lives of all of us was about to change dramatically. Yet, it was a time of flowing, of belonging, and of knowing what was really important: love, life, presence.
My challenge, this day, is to be willing to have my heart break open with every breath so that I may say hello to flowing, belonging, and knowing.
Can you think of a time when you were saying goodbye and yet felt really alive? What does this tell you of how you’d like to live this day?