(Single track footsteps in the sand, disappearing in the tides ... Goa, India 2015)
- APRIL 29, 2020 -
I woke up this morning with the thought of waiting for my last breath to come … where would I be in that moment?
And then I thought of how many countless others were experiencing that very moment right now, standing on the precipice of death, and maybe experiencing it completely alone? Without time to say goodbye to loved ones, no closure, just alienation in that most sacred hour … what a desolate and undeserved death.
I was reminded of an old episode of ’this American Life’ that tells the story of a wind telephone in Japanese garden. A seaside telephone booth connected to no earthly line, a place where people traveled to speak with loved ones who had been lost. A solemn spiritual glass conduit to link the grieving to that ethereal entity that persists even after loved ones are no longer physically there, a place to give voice to all the things left unsaid and undone, to speak aloud the deep truths of longing, love, and loss. And it worked. Families were healed, or at least could begin to heal. A circle formed in the wind that whipped up through that line, even if no words were uttered, the stirring of memories forged the bridge across the void.
It is painful and profound to endure the silence when you ask questions that go unanswered, when you are left only with the whispering wind. But there is also a sense of peace that can emerge, a quiet acceptance of what is, a softness, a forgiving, a small opening that can awaken in the heart.
I have sent many words on the wind to my mother since she passed. I have carried her with me to the many places I have traveled, the places where she would have wanted to go, and I speak to her in those moments, laugh out loud, share in the wonder, and maybe even leave a small rock, or shell, or other found treasure, to mark the spot. I have collected these spots are all over the world in the most random places, where my boots and curiosity have carried me.
And even though I know that I will never fully recover from her untimely death, because the weight of the loss does not ever really subside, it merely transforms, these quiet offerings to the wind, the simple mention of her name, or the remembrances of her smile, her laugh, are what keep her alive and with me, close and deep in my heart, in my very existence, and I hold tight to the belief that somewhere, somehow, she hears me. So, letting go of the expectation that I will ever fully recover has become a saving grace.
Someday I will visit that telephone booth in Japan, and place my own call on the winds of that shore, to reach out across spacetime of the living and the lost, to circle round again to the laughter, the joy, and the love that still remains buoyant even in the impossible waves of great loss.
Everything coming to you is a gift.
(this American Life - #702 “One Last Thing Before I Go”)