“Death is not a separation but a different form of communion, a higher form of connectedness with the community, providing an opportunity for even greater service.” ~ Malidoma Somé
I’ve not written here for a long while, and I’ve been missing it, but also dreading it, for a few reasons. One is that I want to write about Elizabeth’s death, and how we cared for her body, and that has felt difficult to begin. Another reason is that I’ve been afraid of “running out” of Elizabeth’s writing to share, as it is a finite source. Though there is an abundance of her essays and poems still unearthed, some part of me feels that she will die again once all of her writing has been shared here…I feel a need to savor each piece. And I know there is no hurry from all of you, but there is an internal message to continue, and when I ignore it, it gets louder and creates more tension, so I am listening.
And last, I’ve been very busy, as I’ve been getting my home ready to sell, and planning to move to Hawai’i. I’ve known for a long time that I would be leaving Tucson, but didn’t know when, or where to. During the first year after Elizabeth died it became clear that the time was approaching, but that I needed to stay here, in the city that she loved, and in the home where she last breathed, at least until the one year anniversary of her passage. First though, I had a revelation – I realized that some part of me believed that if I left here permanently, Elizabeth wouldn’t be able to find me. Now, I know that she is with me wherever I go, and she lets me know that she’s with me often, answering questions when I ask, and showing me signs that are clear it’s her presence. This felt like something else. I’m not entirely sure about past lives, but this felt like it was from another lifetime, a long-ago memory that surfaced: that of being a mother in a home that had been under attack, perhaps had been bombed, and it was time to leave or else risk dying myself. But in this memory, my child had left the house, and I was afraid that if I left, she or he would never be able to find me again, and would be in great danger and feel abandoned. It is still a vivid “body memory” and moves me to tears, and it feels like possibly a past life that Elizabeth and I shared. Once I realized that some part of me was carrying this belief, it started to loosen its grip, and I knew that I could leave this home, and not be abandoning my child.
So a couple of weeks before the one year anniversary, it became clear that the time has arrived for me to move to Hawai’i, and that there is great energetic support at this time. (This has been discussed for years, as my partner is from Hawai’i, and we’ve spent a lot of time there, as it is where we have a second home and offer our spiritual retreats.) Once the anniversary date passed, on September 23 (and that is another post!), I set a date to put my house for sale, and started readying it. This meant giving away anything that I wouldn’t be taking or putting in storage, and putting away most personal photos and spiritual images – and there were a lot! I did it in stages, and it was many-layered. Each round I’d think I was done, and then realize there was a whole other layer to clear… I’d had an altar set up for Elizabeth since she came home from the hospital into hospice, that now held her ashes, along with some of her most precious belongings, things from her altar at her home, gifts from friends and family, and several photos of her. I knew that I could leave it up, but over several weeks it seemed to take itself apart, bit by bit, until I realized that it was no longer needed at all. She is with me always – sometimes so close I can’t believe she’s gone, and at the same time farther away, my memories less vivid, my sense of her presence as more diffuse…
One of the ways Elizabeth sends me messages is through music. In my recent busyness, I find that my grief is present less often, but emerges from a deep well of emotion. When I’m alone, and quiet, and still, it emerges, often from a connection to Elizabeth through music or an image. I listen to Pandora, with about 25 stations on shuffle, including a wide variety of musicians. Every once in a while, when I’m missing Elizabeth to the core of my being, and talking to her, asking how is it possible that she’s not here anymore, and a song will come on. A few songs in particular: Here Comes the Sun, and Angel from Montgomery are two – songs that I know Elizabeth loved and that she knew were my favorites as well, and I am brought to my knees, with sadness, gratitude, and joy, as I feel her letting me know she is there, seeing me, connecting with me, and comforting me.