As I look towards my fiftieth birthday this year, I find that I believe – albeit by consequence – in the trade-offs for aging: loss and grief, and the consciousness that comes of it. With each loss, I am given to reflect on the meaning of life and the meaning of death, but most especially the meaning of living. And with each loss, I grieve, for that one and all the losses before it. I find myself grieving for those that I cannot name, and perhaps for myself. The grief is incapacitating at times, and the reality of it overwhelming. How do we fill this need to love and to be loved? How does the world go on?
I question my need to be reminded of the value of life at each loss. Why is this something that I lose sight of, or put to the back of my mind and my heart, until the next loss surprises me with its intensity? Is this just a part of being human? Is this the reward for living; the trade-off for life? Is the significance of that consciousness motivation for change?
My Uncle told me recently that he believes that when a person dies, his or her soul merges with that of a living person. As we sat outside my Aunt’s hospital room, he told me that he believes the soul of another of my Aunts has taken residence in me, that her spirit lives in me, as evidenced today by my presence and deeds. Is this the meaning of living?
Sometimes, I find myself wanting to phone my mother – to tell her my exciting news. As I reach for the phone, I realize that I cannot call. But I will hear her voice – “Hi, honey”. I will want to be cared for, and then feel my godmother brushing my hair, like she did when I was a kid. Or, lately, I will come home to an empty house, and smell the dirty-sweet scent of my dog.
The souls and I will sit here in the dark, and I will know that I am not alone.
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