Death is strange. It really is. Even when you know it's coming. Even when you've known for almost a decade that it's coming. It's still strange.
I've known my Mom my entire life. Prior to my birth she'd had a life filled with experiences, thoughts, beliefs, and feelings of all kinds. Most would say she had a good life. And she did.
But whether we say a life was good or bad, it eventually comes to an end. And so what was it all for? What was the purpose of that particular life, only to have it end in death?
My Mom had dementia for the last ten years of her life. And for the last year or two, I was hard-pressed to find anything I knew of "Mom" in that crumpling body that no longer recognized me or much else.
So her passing was, for the most part, freeing. Most of what I felt in the days prior to and immediately after her death, was peace and relief.
And yet, as I get ready to throw out the last remnants of her funeral flowers, I grieve. But not for the loss of my Mom.
I grieve for the inexplicable, transitory, and seemingly meaningless, purposeless nature of life.
I thought I knew what life was. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of why we are born, what we are here to do, and what happens to us when we die. Over the years, my beliefs have evolved and I have continued to feel pretty comfortable with my story - my beliefs and theories about it all. I've had it all tied up pretty neatly in a box that has helped me feel solid and kind of secure.
But then, death happened. And death, and the experience of death, I've discovered, is not solid. A portal opens when you sit with the dying and drive to her funeral, and suddenly things don't feel so solid anymore.
"It just feels weird," I hear myself saying alot in the days since Mom's passing. And I can't be much clearer than "weird" except to say that things - life - feel unfamiliar, not solid, and almost dreamlike.
And maybe that's why I'm crying. The dreamlike, transitory, fleeting, and often unremarkable quality of this life is not what I thought life was, not what I expected.
I thought it was solid. I thought I was a unique, separate person, forging ahead with what was important to me, pumping meaning into my life, and making sure I was doing it right and taking ownership of my Shelly-ness.
But beyond the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, preferences, and events that make up this Shelly-experience, there is just Life - a pulsating, vibrating Is-ness that is unimpressed with my successes and non-judging of my failures.
It is this Is-ness that is Life, and we are mere expressions of It. We are born, we do stuff, and then we die: all within the soup of Is-ness, of Being-ness.
If Being-ness is the ocean, we are but ripples - temporary expressions of the one eternal Ocean.
So it's sad to reduce the life of someone you love, someone as important to your life as Mom, and sad to reduce your own life, to just a ripple, on the surface of the ocean.
Yes it's sad. And kind of a shock really. And yet in the midst of the sadness, or maybe because of it, I find myself in the strange, vast, unknowable freedom of the Ocean.
And to feel oneself as That, well maybe that's the only meaning or purpose of anything.
Much love to you all,
Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily,
Life is but a dream.