Death’s been on my mind lately. Three friends buried this month.
I’m starting to think I have more dead friends than living ones. I’m afraid to count the remaining ones. I don’t want to spook myself or them. I want to say “See ya later” without a shadow hanging over that promise.
Some say death is an illusion, that it’s not real. No, I’m sorry. It’s real. The universe may go on forever, but our days on earth are numbered. It’s wise to keep that in mind lest we fritter them away.
Be mindful of death every day, but don’t let it get you down. Be mindful of your place in the wondrous web of life.
Belong. Be glad. Be grateful.
Recently I’ve undergone a battery of tests to determine the severity of my a-fib. Before each test, I was handed a form.
Does cardiovascular disease run in your family? No.
Kidney disease? No.
That last question was not on the form. But it was on my mind along with a-fib, a ticking clock, and three funerals.
And then along came a wedding.
Last Saturday I officiated a wedding in a sunlit flower garden. The bridal party drifted in to the soaring sounds of “Shenandoah.” Guests came from Italy, Switzerland, Spain, Argentina, and Inwood: A wizened woman leaning on a cane, babies in arms, toddlers, teens, Gen-Z-ers (also known as zoomers), millennials, boomers (also known as geezers), straights, gays, brown, black, white, and every hue in between. A song was sung in Portuguese, a poem read in Spanish.
A wedding without borders.
The bride and groom solemnly promised to care for each other in plenty and in want, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.
Even at a wedding, there’s no escape.
Yes, death comes to all. What’s next, if anything, is a mystery. No one knows. But in the meantime—with or without solemn vows—we can all care for each other through all kinds of conditions and circumstances.
We can be mindful of death but not let it get us down. We can concentrate on loving the earth and one another with our whole being.
We can sing. We can dance. We can live. Fearlessly.
And let the mystery be.
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See Paula’s photo “September Morning”