I had an ex-boyfriend who got mad at me for always talking about death.
It is true—graveyards make my eyes light up.
I’ve worked at the bedside of dying people for 15 years.
It is not uncommon for a “hospice” joke to slip out of my mouth, landing on stunned faces, which tells me I am terribly inappropriate…or weird.
Some may think death is somber and needs to be shoved into nursing homes or hospitals, out of sight of “happy, vibrant people.”
But, death is a natural human phenomenon that will happen to each one of us brave enough to be born.
Social media feeds are flooded with pictures of babies as we joyfully welcome them into our homes with pride.
We celebrate birth with presents, excitement, and wonder.
But for some reason, the topic of death is culturally stigmatized as morose, and “Goth.”
I completely understand that losing the “sense of control” we have worked our whole life to solidify is a real ego death.
It f*cking sucks.
Saying goodbye to those who are deeply interwoven into the fabric of our being is heartbreakingly sad.
How do we normalize and welcome the “daily deaths” so we are not left blindsided when death whispers in our ear,
“I’m coming for you.”
I love the Mary Oliver question from her poem, This Summer’s Day,
“Tell me, what is it you will do with your one wild and precious life?”
What if our wild eyes started welcoming our daily “demons” as a path to gain confidence, a sense of humor, and childlike joy?
Believing we have the power to free ourselves in this “comic tragedy” we call life?
We can start by saying hello to:
Darkness, our old friend,
snuggling up together on the couch with a cozy blanket and lighting a few pumpkin candles.
As the world rains down, a season of change,
the fire of summer is baptized in hoodies and boots.
If we get quiet enough, we feel the underflow, speaking in our bones.
Swords of curiosity, our weapon, as we slash through our secret places of shame and fear.
The rejected parts of ourselves,
patiently waiting to be rocked, by the only brave heart who can save them.
The one beating tenderly in your own chest.
We can welcome our forbidden characters to the surface with a warm cup of tea,
or glass of fine red wine.
because we are no longer afraid of snakes.
Okay, maybe a little,
Okay, a lot,
It’s okay to be terrified.
Baring our naked souls to burn,
illusions of control.
The underworld journey, is not for the weak-hearted.
Kali Ma throws her lasso of skulls around our necks,
we can try to fight her off, but “the force is strong with this one.”
Laughing is the only weapon,
as we stand in humor, on Bambi legs,
with the ground tattooed on our faces.
No longer able to ignore the ancient call,
we dive off the cliff head first, “Let’s do this!”
Fist bumping our newfound friends,
The prophets say our souls live here,
stardust remnants of universal rising,
fearful fingers inter-twined with Death,
as she intimately whispers in our fragile ears
“Do not be afraid, my child, you were born for this.”
We can choose to squeeze our eyes shut,
with invisible capes, singing anthems of “I’m good. I’m strong. I’m fine.”
The army of “perma-grin” smiles,
won the war with the “real you,”
who is desperately pleading to be uncaged,
from the boarded up houses
painted with all the masks they told us were acceptable.
Built on sugar plum dreams of sterile immortality.
But our human, beating hearts were made to be broken open.
To a place where freedom runs wild,
with the ocean and stars,
the moon and the sun.
And we know. We are home.
In our own skin, back to earth.
on an ordinary Tuesday,
to do the laundry, take out the trash, and feed the children.
“A heart that’s been broke, is a heart that’s been loved, so I’ll sing Hallelujah.” ~ Ed Sheeran, Supermarket Flowers.