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August 12, 2021

How Death reminds us of Life, Love & the Fragility of it All.

I started writing this article in the Toronto airport as I waited to board.

As I waited, I fidgeted with a plant tucked into my arm. A gift from family that I wanted to ditch, but instead I held it tightly—as if my life depended on it.

I laughed, recalling my last flight home when I returned with my ex-husband’s cremains. Life and death are both mysterious and glorious.

As a writer and as a human being, I love beginnings and struggle with endings.

Let’s face it. All of us have lives that are a mixture of romantic comedy and tragedy, and sometimes it just depends on the lens from which it is viewed. Even sad endings are beautiful.

New beginnings and death may be the gateway to transcend the freeing of our Earthly bonds and pain.

When we review life events, we often see a foreshadowing of things to come. We see things clearly as they are and what will be. In writing, this is a literary device and in life, it is the culmination of life.

I ponder life and everything I have experienced up to this point. I think back to my ex-husband’s passing and the events prior. I think of my daughter and her family (that I’m leaving) and how grief has impacted our lives.

I think about our beliefs, our rituals, and our ceremonies following death.

My family has a tradition of staying to the end of a funeral to watch the body descend into the earth. I thought this was a superstitious act and learned later that, many years ago, caskets were replaced with lesser quality ones to make money. This is a horrible deed of which today we can’t even imagine.

My father and his family practiced this final ritual for their loved ones at the gravesite. I knew this was my father’s request, as well.

Five years ago, my father passed suddenly. My ex-husband was good support from the day he passed and the days following. What really stood out was his care and love at the funeral service in the cemetery.

After my father’s funeral service, my ex-husband remained back (after everyone had left) and watched my father’s casket slowly descend returning to earth. I watched my ex-husband, from a distance, and smiled as he turned and waved and walked closer to the casket.

“Don’t stand too close,” I whispered that day, as winter wind blew. I turned and comforted my family as they walked to the car. This was a foreshadowing of his own untimely death, one year later. He would pass the same way my father did, suddenly at home, from cardiac arrest.

That day has stood out for me for a few years and now, fast-forward to the airport, post-pandemic reopening, and traveling home.

I am reminded of life, love, and the fragility of it all. I realize in fear of standing too close, I’ve restricted my own life.

While clutching my plant, I sighed and flashed my identification and boarding pass. I asked myself, what is the life and love that I am returning to?

There’s a cat and family and friends and a heart that’s ready to stand just a little closer to love and loving.

“I’m going home,” I gushed out loud, followed by a whispered prayer, and then I held my hand as the plane took off.

~

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