Parallel Things

Image © Alana Fairchild

Image © Alana Fairchild

Parallel things. Opposite but parallel.
: The gut-splitting kind, can't catch your breath, tears rolling, stomach and face-hurting kind. Uncontrollable release.

Compare this release with that of raw sadness: 
Crying out loud, hearing your own voice empty it's strange sounding grief, all your insides feel like they are coming out, heart ripping and soulful.

Birth and death: The long journey to the conclusion. The anticipated end, and the gifts of both. Laboring hard for birth. Laboring hard for death. Birth brings us to this Earthbound place of many experiences. Death delivers us to a place of spirit. Naked. A soulful spirit-place, where you must now move in a different way. 

Parallel and opposite.

I’ve been blessed to have been present for several births and deaths. Recently, I walked to the threshold of death with the strong woman who birthed me. It was not what I expected, not graceful or pretty, ... but long. Confusing. At times ugly, and beautiful. Full of Spirit. Full of strength and weakness.I flitted between emotional reactions and the logical, analytical, scientific aspects of her journey to death.

I listened hard.

I took it all in – the essence of her path. 

My sisters and I provided her with everything we could to make her journey sacred, comforting, supported. When she was agitated and restless, the only thing that calmed her was to lie next to her in her bed. She spoke about "going home", "giving up", "turning back". 

Transitioning is difficult. 
How does a heart that has sustained a body every second for 84 years just stop beating? 

It labors to stop. 

I dreamed, the night before she died, that her mother came gently to her side, whispered into her ear. She turned toward her mother and was gone. The next morning, I knew her spirit had detached from her body, as it continued through the last motions of living, before it succumbed. 

We sang to her and burned sweetgrass. 

We lovingly washed and anointed her with her favorite scent: lavender. As our hearts wrenched from our bodies, hers was ceasing to beat. We let go of the husk that was left of our mother. The cumbersome body had now freed her spirit. She had a good death. Death, ushered, is worthy of ritual and ceremony. It's going on 2 years now, since she died. I still think of her and cry for my loss. I also think of her and smile and laugh at our playful, joyous times.

When I consider these extreme differences: birth and death, joy and grief, the physical body, and the spirit it carries, I think about the space between them.

Parallel and opposite.