Over the past week, I lost two of my best friends in the world -- Baxter and Teddy. Baxter was an almost 17-year-old terrier mix, whose health had been failing for some time. For the past couple months, my first task of the morning has been to check if he was still breathing. Teddy, on the other hand, was an 8-year-old vibrant and healthy (I thought) goofball, who was getting into mischief up until the night before I woke up to find that he had passed while we all were sleeping. One death was anticipated, the other was not, but both were heartbreaking. Even writing this now, I feel the tears trying to push their way forward. They were my family and I loved them.
But that's the thing about love, isn't it? Love can take us to the giddiest, most joyful heights and plunge us into the deepest and darkest pits of despair.Much like the Wheel of Year, it has its ups and downs and the pain of losing someone we love is one of life's most potent teachers. It's not lost on me that this experience of profound loss comes as we enter that part of the year that is the domain of Demeter and the other Death goddesses who teach us about grief and the sacrifice that comes whenever we enter a new cycle. It is the way of Nature, but that doesn't mean it's always easy.
I don't know about you, but I've had a lot of experience with death and living in the shadow of grief. I was born into a household where a child had already died, my childhood best friend, Jill, was killed in an accident when we were 18, my father, all my grandparents, and a cousin had all passed before I had passed my mid-20s. And today, I am a caregiver for a mother, who is slowly dying of FTD (Front Temporal Lobe Dementia). Unlike riding a bike, which becomes old hat with practice, Death never gets any easier.
Anyone who has ever lost someone can understand Demeter's grief at losing Persephone. They understand why she would halt the growth of all thingsand scour spheres to find her daughter. But at the same time as it hurts, Death teaches us a lot about how to live. It teaches us to love unreservedly. It teaches us to sit and hold the hands of those who are experiencing grief, because we ourselves know sorrow. It teaches us that we do not have forever, so love and live unreservedly, because you never know when the Summerlands will call.
And so, this week I invite you light a candle for a loved on who has departed and sit with your memories of them and to tell (or better yet show) someone who is still here how much you love them.
Brightest of Blessings,