Tuesday, January 08, 2008
The Still Mourning
This is my friend Christopher.
As many of you know, I did a surprise visit to America for Christmas. Sitting around with the family, opening presents, it dawned on me that being gone for the holidays is extremely immoral. One’s absence is amplified, and the void pulls the party down.
I had a wonderful time playing in the snow, singing with my friends, watching movies. I was visited by wood elves and artists and nomads and kids, angels sang me to sleep.
The day I came back to my house in Kansas City, the 23rd of December, I walked in and went straight to see my grandma in her room. She looked like an unwrapped mummy, so thin, and her mouth was open and her eyes were closed, and her body was clenched in a kind of premature rigor mortis. She was rocking back in forth, itching her head on the pillow.
“Grammy, does your head itch? I’ll itch it for you.”
I began to rub her head and suddenly, from her dry, open mouth, she squeezed out “I’m Okay.”
Those were her last words to me.
Later that day I went over to my sister’s new apartment with my mom. My sister was having a party and asked my mom to come over early to help prepare. When she opened the door, she saw me instead, and burst into tears. (none of my sisters knew I was coming.)
My last day in America, I woke up at 4 to catch a 6:00 plane, and I imediatly thought of my grandma. I went into her room and found her dead. It was so quite, so still, the early morning, and the breathless air around her. I touched her head, it was still warm. She must have just died. I closed my eyes and prayed “May you be in peace and find your way” and then I told my dad, who told my mom, who cried, and said, “it's ok, it’s ok, it's ok” to herself, or to us, or to her mother, or to god, I don't know.
My dad, always trying to lighten the mood, said, “Now she is with the ages,” referring to a funny and morbid game we played on new years: how many expressions can we come up with for “died.”
“She died alone; nobody was with her” my mom said under her tears.
My dad chimed in, “Well, we were in the next room. Maybe kitty was with her. Were you with her kitty?“ My cat looked up, and then walked away.
“She knew we were with her. We all told her goodnight. And I’ve heard that it’s always best to die alone, in a very quiet space. The less distractions, the better” I said.
We all went back into my grandma’s room. My mom pet her mom’s head and tucked her in like a baby to bed.
She then called her sister and said “Julie, mom’s gone.”
I finished packing, rolled my suitcase past my grandma’s room, past my mother, passed the sadness and stillness of fresh death. I kissed mom goodbye, and my dad and I left for the airport, mom waving and smiling in the rearview mirror.
So yeah, crazy surreal morning. However, i was lucky to sit next to a brilliant professor of Japanese Religion from Iowa on the plane. He gave me some lectures and praised my ideas about the shingon mandalas (you can read them on my other blog). Also on the plane I reread Richard Bach’s “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.” It’s only 60 pages long. I first read this book when I was 10 or so and I remember it was the first book that, immediately after reading it, I put down, and looked at the world in an entirely new way. The world shimmered and glowed and was brighter than before. I think this book caused my consciousness to grow.
Rereading it now, I have a new appreciation for its depth. For those of you who don't know, it’s about a little seagull who becomes and outcast from his flock and learns how to fly and be totally free from a master teacher, Chiang.
“…You have the freedom to be yourself, your true self, here and now, and nothing can stand in your way.”
“The gull sees farthest who flies highest.”
“Keep working on love.”
“Heaven is not a place, and it is not a time. Heaven is being perfect…”
“You will begin to touch Heaven, Jonathan, the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or the speed of light. Because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.”
“…You must begin by knowing that you have already arrived.”
“The trick, according to Chiang, was for Jonathan to stop seeing himself as trapped inside a limited body that had a forty-two-inch wingspan and performance that could be plotted on a chart, The trick was to know that his true nature lives, as perfect as an unwritten number, everywhere at once across space and time.”
“We are free to go where we wish and be who we are.”
I’ve started Phillip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, as well as Steve McIntosh’s “Integral Consciousness” and Gregory Robert’s “Shantaram." I am also still researching for my essay on Integral Realism. Oh, and I saw "The Kite Runner" and sobbed durring the entire movie.
Posted by David at 12:05 AM
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